Dallascaper's Farscape Fantasy
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Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, well except for a few of them. The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Network Australia and the Sci-Fi Channel own the Farscape characters and Farscape. I have merely borrowed these characters to play with, and promise to return them in good working order. Paramount Pictures own the name Star Trek and the characters of Star Trek.

This story takes place sometime not long after the events of Kiss the Princess. No spoilers, just a quick story.

A PG-13 rating for language.

A big thanks to my betareaders. THANK YOU!!!

*************************************

I turned on my tape recorder. "Well, Dad, you'll never believe who I met out here. It's a long story, so pull up a chair. It started at dinner about 3 months ago..."


Pilot alerted us we were approaching a planet called L'Teymal. Zhaan was quite excited to see it. Over dinner she explained that 500 cycles ago, she and some of her associates had come to this planet to help the natives fend off a nasty plague that was running rampant. I could still not get used to the fact Zhaan was 800 cycles old.

"I was new to the Seek then, an acolyte really. All I was doing was assisting those higher in the Seek in treating the sick." she said around a mouthful of food cubes.

"What was it from? Some dreadful disease from a swamp or something?" Chiana asked.

"No. They had done it to themselves. A viral bomb. There was a war going on between five major countries. One of them detonated a bomb, without considering the consequences. Tens of thousands in every nation on the planet became sick. Thousands more died before we arrived. We saved perhaps fifteen percent of those afflicted."

The conversation died off after that for a little while. I looked at my crewmates. All of our cultures had stood at that brink before.

"Do you think they'll remember you Blue?" I asked her. "It might help if they do."

"I have been in contact with a government Minister named Monath. They certainly remember the Delvians who came to help them, even if they don't remember our names any longer."

"We welcome you to join us, and trade freely among our merchants." The smiling government official said. "We are honored to have a tenth level Pa'u visit our humble planet once again."

"The honor is mine Monath." Zhaan replied with a nod. "My crewmates will take a transport pod down to the landing coordinates you have so generously given." Zhaan motioned Aeryn Sun, former Peacekeeper, and me to step into view. "These are my friends, Commander John Crichton and Officer Aeryn Sun. They will be leaving shortly." I copied Zhaan's head bow, making up for Aeryn's calm stare at the official. The Scorpius in my head laughed at my attempt at civility.

"Welcome!" Monath said happily. "Please, we look forward to assisting you however we are able."

Aeryn took my arm and pulled me towards the door to Command. "I don't quite trust him John," she whispered.

"Why not? Zhaan seems to think he's just happy to see us." I replied, glancing down at Aeryn's hand on my arm and smiling slowly. Making a crook in my arm and pulling Aeryn's hand through, I leaned toward her conspiratorially. "I think he's just being overly friendly trying to be non-threatening to a pair of dangerous and off-kilter Peacekeeper troopers. He's only the Minister of Foreign Relations, after all. It's not like they found someone important for us to deal with."

Aeryn yanked her arm from mine and shook her head resignedly. I guess she thought that sometimes I took this Peacekeeper impersonation too far. Thinking of that always made me think of Scorpius. My new mental voice reminded me that he was still on the hunt for me and would eventually find me. We entered Moya's cavernous hanger, to see that Pilot had sent some DRD's to prep a transport pod for flight.

"Commander Crichton, Officer Sun, Ka D'Argo has left a list of supplies in the transport pod. I understand both Chiana and Dominar Rygel had several more requests, but D'Argoš over rode them." Pilot's voice sounded over our communicators.

"Thank you Pilot." Aeryn said. I noticed that Aeryn usually sounded warmer and more compassionate, more lifelike when talking with Pilot, ever since Chiana had found that Peacekeeper recording of what had transpired in the process of getting Pilot installed as Moya's current pilot. I still shudder at the memory, even if I had only witnessed it second hand.

We climbed into the transport pod and ran through the brief pre-flight check. Knowing that Pilot had the DRD's prep this transport pod made the check almost a redundant process, but the ex-Peacekeeper and I were both pilots so such checks before flight had become second nature. I smiled ruefully as Aeryn immediately took the controls, skillfully guiding the pod out of Moya's docking bay into open space. "You can take the girl out of the Peacekeepers," I thought to myself.

Monath's voice sounded over the pod's communication system. "We are transmitting landing instructions now. Please, follow them precisely."

"Affirmative." I responded. I looked over the sensors, noting there were over two dozen other vessels in orbit, Moya being among the largest. There were at least three times as many smaller craft like our transport pod zipping around in the upper atmosphere. I commented on this to Aeryn.

"If you had been with us on Command when Zhaan first contacted Monath, instead of concentrating on that obscure Erp game. What did you call it? Chest?" She said to me without turning, keeping focused on following our set flight plan.

"It's Chess, Aeryn. Chess. And I think you'd enjoy the strategy of the game if you'd ever let me teach you to play. It's really difficult. There was this computer company back home called IBM that created a computer called Deep Blue.."

"As I was saying John, if you had been there, then you'd know that this planet does quite a bit of business with intrasystem trading. There are 4 planets with populations on them, and freighters make a decent living transporting cargo. If we can't buy what we need here, we can always hire ourselves out as freighters."

"Well, hopefully we'll find what we need."

The conversation ended as we both turned towards our instruments and concentrated on landing at the pad made available. It was easy to see with a circle of iridescent blue lights blinking around it. Aeryn set the pod down with a minimum of bouncing. She grabbed the bag of various currencies and slung it over her shoulder, checking her pistols, noticing me checking mine as well. I saw her frown at the sight, knowing when she first met me the last thing I would ever have looked for was a weapon. Checking my own pistols made me think how far I'd come. Ruefully, I thought, "I would almost say how far I've fallen." Good ol' Scorpy chuckled at my unease. "Damn him for turning me into this," I muttered.

"Let's go," my crewmate said.

The natives of the planet we'd met so far were polite and genuinely happy to see strangers. The trio of technicians who scurried up the transport pod all seemed like children eager to please a visiting relative. I dropped the Peacekeeper routine since it didn't seem necessary, spouting random and headache causing "Human Sayings", just to keep Aeryn from going into complete Peacekeeper mode. Aeryn maintained her calm Peacekeeper control, not missing anything, barely relaxing, despite my clich»s, but she shot me a few perplexed looks. The senior of the three techs motioned towards a lone figure standing near the edge of the raised platform of the landing pad. Whoever it was waved enthusiastically at Aeryn and me.

We approached the figure hesitantly. Aeryn was hesitant, I was eager to paint the town red. The person waiting for us appeared to be female, and a native. The natives kind of reminded me of dogs. They were a good six inches shorter than me, had canine appearing faces, with black noses, lightly furred skin and long droopy ears. I had to resist the urge to pat the techs on the head.

The attendant waiting for us took one step forward and bowed to us. I repeated the little head bow I'd seen Zhaan make. Aeryn, being Aeryn, just stood there. She smiled at us, revealing another canine trait, prominent, pointed teeth. I could tell they were definitely meat eaters, so I knew we could get some meat for Zhaan, just in case. I had no desire to see her in full bloom again.

"Monath has sent me to greet you, and assist you however I am able. My name is Deetra." She said. She had a pleasant voice, low and smooth, like Aeryn's.

"I'm Commander John Crichton, this is Officer Aeryn Sun. We have a list of needed supplies for the Pa'u." I introduced us and handed over the list. Deetra almost bubbled with excitement as she read it over.

"I believe that you'll find we can fill this list most satisfactorily." She gushed. FINALLY! It seemed we had found a planet where we could actually relax a little. I just wished that Aeryn would let down her guard a little. She still seemed skittish over what had happened with Princess Katralla.

"If you'll follow me? We have a vehicle waiting for your use." Deetra went down the steps. I thought she might start skipping along like a schoolgirl. These seemed such good happy people I prayed the Peacekeepers never found this place. Which meant we had to get our supplies and leave this place quickly. Deetra turned out to be not only our go-between with Monath, but our chauffeur as well. The transport made me think of an airport tram, only with more seating and more cargo room. We might be able to get our supplies and get out in one day.

Deetra kept up a running commentary as she drove us to the markets. She pointed out living quarters of the city, financial districts, warehouses, commercial centers. We detoured around several parks. Aeryn seemed surprised to see children playing and laughing in the open air. I guess living in a spaceship since pretty much day one makes you forget that childhood is supposed to be a happy carefree time. At least, for humans it is. I noticed these people took their financial centers seriously, since there seemed to be a platoon of visibly armed guards around several buildings. If the Peacekeepers ever did find this place, they'd have a fight on their hands. I suddenly wondered what would happen if I blew a dog whistle. If I had a dog whistle to blow.

We found the markets and parked our vehicle. Deetra took me by the hand and dragged me along, heading to a particular shop first. It was an open fronted shop, with a bright red, silken canopy held up on two intricately carved posts. I was glad I had the Peacekeeper jacket I had found on Moya. The temperature was slightly on the chilly side for a human. I bet Aeryn found it perfect.

The proprietor of the shop greeted Deetra like a long lost daughter. She might have been his daughter for all we knew. She handed him our list and they huddled together talking quietly. Aeryn kept an eye on them and on the door. I browsed around the shop. This guy had just about everything I could think of, and even more of what I couldn't. A glint of sunlight off something near the back of the store drew my attention. I wandered back to see what it was.

"Ah, I see you have taken a liking to that. A fine replica if I do say so myself." The shopkeeper said, suddenly standing right next to me. He must have been a giant among his people, since he was almost as tall as me.

"A replica? This looks genuine." I picked up what looked to me to be a real-deal, razor sharp kitana, like in that flick Highlander. I firmly pushed thoughts of the other Highlander films from my head. Partially cause they made my Śfriend' laugh at what we humans considered entertainment, but mostly cause they really really sucked.

"No, no. This is a replica of the weapon used by one of the best fighters we've seen quite a few cycles. In fact, I think he's Sebacean." The shopkeeper put a flyer in my hand. I stuffed it in my pocket to look at later. "He's a master with that sword of his. Replicas of it usually sell out immediately."

I picked up the sword. I could see some differences now that I held it. The blade was straight, and wider then the ones I'd seen back home. Of course, the ones I'd seen were crappy knockoffs anyway. The handle was longer too. Hilt, I meant. The cross guard was just that, a cross, with flares sticking out perpendicular to the blade for about 4 inches each, then bending ninety degrees to inch long sharp points. D'Argo would say it was to catch an opponent's blade and wrench it from their hands.

"He is fighting tonight you know." The shopkeeper broke my reverie.

"What?" I asked, still holding the sword in my hands.

"That Sebacean fighter. He has a bout scheduled for tonight. To settle a dispute over a region of mountains rich in ore." The shopkeeper peered at me momentarily. I wondered if he could pick up from my scent I was not Sebacean. "I'll make you a deal. If I cannot have this order filled by the time the fight starts, I'll give you my box seats, and throw in that sword you're so fond of as well. What do you say?" He crossed his arms and waited. I looked to Aeryn and she nodded shortly. It seemed like a good idea, we could get all our supplies in one place and be on our way. My little Śfriend' started whispering to me that it would not matter how well I used a sword, he'd still find me, he'd still win.

"You've got a deal Lassie." I replied. The shopkeeper's ears perked up a little and he cocked his head to one side. I nearly burst out laughing.

We strolled around the market while Lassie worked on our list. Aeryn had haggled long and hard over the prices, so our bag of money wasn't all that much lighter. Deetra never lost an ounce of enthusiasm. She pointed out different areas of the market that specialized in different things. This area for food, that one for technology, over there for clothing. I found some candles I thought Zhaan might like, a necklace for Pip. A majority of the shoppers were natives, so the air was filled with laughter. If it weren't for all those people after me, I would have considered staying here for a few months. But, you'd have to wonder if your neighbors had had their shots, or were spayed or neutered. After a few arns, we found ourselves back in front of Lassie's shop. He came out to greet us, looking a little forlorn.

"Well, here are my box seats for tonight, and the sword, just as promised." He said glumly, handing over two slim tickets and the sword, in a scabbard that looked and felt like ebony. "I'm a man of my word. I give you my word now that I'll have the rest of that list filled out no later than the fifth bell after dawn tomorrow." He looked at us expectantly.

"That will be fine." Aeryn said. She took the tickets from my hand and looked them over. "Each ticket is good for two, correct?" She asked, looking at Lassie.

"Quite correct Officer Sun." He sounded pleased she figured that out. "You and your crew are more than welcome to my box for this evenings fight." We turned to make our way back to the transport pod with what he had already procured for us. Deetra had commandeered a pair of strong backs so our supplies were loaded in the back of the airport tram. We got in the vehicle and made our way to the landing pad.

"This is still a fine weapon, even if it is supposed to be a replica Crichton." D'Argo said, swinging my new sword around in the cargo bay. "The balance is not to my liking, and the weight is too light for me, but I can teach you how to use it."

"I don't know big guy. It's hard enough to use a pulse rifle on someone. To use that on someone. Up close and personal. I don't know."

D'Argo stopped and looked at me. "I know you're not a warrior John. But the time may come when this weapon and your skill are all that stand between you and certain death. Or the death of someone you care about."

"D'Argo, if it ever comes to that point, it probably means Scorpy has found me and all of you are in dire straits. I don't think a sword will help." I said. "But, you never know."

Chiana stuck her head in the cargo bay door, then slinked her way in. D'Argo smiled when she came in. "Going to the fight tonight D'Argo?" she breathed at us.

"Of course. Who all is going John?" he asked me.

I sheathed the sword. "Me, Aeryn, you and I guess Pip. I don't think Zhaan would go for this, and I really don't think it would be a good idea to take Sparky down there without a chaperon."

"Then we'd better go soon. The fight starts in two arns." D'Argo headed for the docking bay, with Chiana in tow.

I stopped off to leave the sword in my quarters. I put the Peacekeeper trench coat I had found over the one I already had on. I figured it would get fairly cold at night. I hurried down to meet the others. I met Zhaan on the way.

"Hey Blue. Can you handle Fluffy by yourself for a few arns?" I asked.

"Of course John. Enjoy yourselves this evening. I shall pray to the Goddess none of the fighters are seriously injured. And thank you for the candles." She smiled at me and headed for Command. I guess no one explained to her these fights left only one person standing at the end.

"Crichton!" Aeryn's voice sounded over my communicator. "Hurry up or we'll leave you here."

"I'm on the way Sunshine." I ran down the corridor.

"These are great seats Crichton!" Chiana said, leaning out to look down into the arena.

The arena looked to be about 100 feet across, and was circular. It was also about 8 feet deep, with the box seats closest to the edge, and the general admission section rising behind the boxes. There were two doors visible, directly across from each other.

"Look, here comes one of the fighters." D'Argo said, pointing to the door on our left. If the other fighter was Sebacean, then he'd have a tough fight on his hands. This first fighter appeared to be at least seven feet tall, and almost as wide. His weapon of choice was a sword, with a double-edged blade that looked to be two feet wide, and five feet long. He didn't have any visible armor, but he had green, scaly skin that looked pretty damn tough. He reminded me of a Gorn from Star Trek.

"There Crichton, the Sebacean." Aeryn pointed to the other door. I looked hard at him. I grabbed the monocle from my jacket pocket and put it on. I zoomed it in on this new fighter. He appeared Sebacean, although he was the first I'd seen with brown hair, cut short. All the others I'd seen had either jet black or blonde hair. He also was the only other Sebacean I'd seen with any facial hair besides Crais. I guess being able to grow a beard was a perk of command. He had a closely trimmed moustache and goatee. He didn't appear to be hugely muscled, but was defined. He was bare chested, and had on baggy black pants with the cuffs tucked into tight fitting boots. He carried that sword I had a replica of. I could hear both Chiana and Aeryn murmur approvingly when he reached the center of the arena, standing about 5 feet from his much larger opponent. I'd guess his height at 6 feet, compared to the Gorn.

The crowd roared, ready for combat. Aeryn and D'Argo leaned forward, eager to see this highly praised warrior in action. The Sebacean bowed to the Gorn. The crowd roared louder. I took notice when he bowed, as did D'Argo and Aeryn. Aeryn did the same thing when training or sparring. It was the honorable thing to do, to show respect to an opponent, she had explained. It was something that human martial artists did when facing an opponent, as well, for the same reasons. I put the monocle back on to watch closer. I zoomed it in so that it appeared I was only a few feet from the action.

When the Sebacean bowed, the Gorn laughed and swung that massive blade, thinking to end this fight quickly. The Sebacean jumped back and stood up at the same time, that slim silver blade swinging up to a defensive posture. D'Argo snorted. "A simple maneuver. He could have rolled under the strike and gutted his opponent easily."

It became apparent that while the Gorn had size and strength on his side, he did not have speed. The Sebacean circled him smoothly, each foot being planted softly and surely, his head never moving, his eyes never left the Gorn's face. After about 10 minutes of watching the Sebacean dance around the Gorn, avoiding the Gorn's swings, lashing out with quick slashes of his own, the crowd started a chant. "Khanš Khanš Kublai Khanš" over and over. "Kublai Khan? Nah, it couldn't be." I thought.

Suddenly, the fight was over. The Gorn was cut in many places, and bleeding badly. The big lizard swung his sword back over his head, grabbing the hilt with both hands. The Sebacean, Khan, spun to his left, stepping forward at the same time. The slim blade of his proved to be as sharp as I'd guessed. In a lightning move, he finished spinning a complete circle and whipped his sword across the Gorn's stomach, sidestepping the Gorn to the left. As the Gorn bent over from the hit, the Sebacean reversed his weapon, sharp side up, and swung his sword from ground to sky. At the top of the stroke, he reversed the sword again, jumped up, spun to the right in the air, and swung from his left to right, at a downward angle, and we could all tell from the way his arms and shoulders flexed, he swung hard.

He landed in a crouch as the Gorn continued to stumble forward. The crowd was silent. The Gorn stood up straight and dropped his giant weapon. All at once, the Gorn's right arm fell off, severed in midtricep and his head slid off his body. The ugly thing collapsed in a heap. The crowd erupted with cheers. I kept the monocle zoomed on this Sebacean fighter. He said something to himself, and the crowd roared louder. He motioned for silence, and the crowd quieted marginally. He raised his voice and said:

"One, two! One, two! And through and through the vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head he went galumphing back."

He grabbed the Gorn's head, raised his sword over his head, and walked back towards the door he entered from. The crowd cheered and stamped and cried out his name. "KHAN!" was on everyone's lips.

I grabbed Aeryn's arm and pulled her close. "I have to talk to him, and I mean right now!"

"What for Crichton? Don't you think D'Argo can teach you to fight as well?" She smirked at D'Argo and me.

"It's not that Aeryn. That little ditty he said to the crowd. That's from an old poem from Earth. I have to find out how he knows it. Even his name is from an ancient Earth poem." I pushed my way through the crowd, trying to find my way down to the level of the arena. A dog faced guard stood in front of some steps leading down, so I made my way towards him.

"I'm sorry sir, but only owners are allowed downstairs." He put his hands out to bar my way.

"Owners?" I stopped, perplexed. "What do you mean owners?"

"Didn't you know sir? The fighters are slaves. Bought, sold, and trained to fight in the arena. It is how we decide certain legal matters when the need arises." The guard explained.

"What? Like champions? To settle insults?" I asked, getting angry.

I heard a voice behind me. "Oh no, nothing that trivial. In most cases it's about boundary disputes between nations. It's much easier to settle this in the arena instead of war."

"Well, who owns that Sebacean that just won? I need to speak to him. It's very very important." I asked, considering a bribe might be in order, turning to address the person behind me.

"I own that magnificent fighter Commander Crichton, after a fashion." Monath stood behind me. "What would you like to see him about?" A tall figure, clearly not a native to this world stood behind Monath. About all I could tell was the person had neon green eyes under a hooded cloak that reached nearly to the floor. From the curves of the cloak, this person was definitely female, unless she was Zanetian. If she was standing flat footed, she'd almost hit 6 feet. A giantess among these people.

"That thing he said after his victory. Do you know where he heard that? I seem to remember it from home and I wondered if he could tell me more." I said, hoping it seemed plausible, keeping it as vague as I could. When I mentioned home, the woman standing behind Monath twitched, but didn't say anything. Monath ignored her or didn't notice.

"I really don't know Commander. I bought him from some bounty hunters some cycles ago. He must have been fighting for quite a long time when I bought him, since he started winning territory for our government since his first battle."

"May I talk to him Monath? It's really important." I asked.

"Tomorrow Crichton. I'll send a message to your vessel when I have arranged it." He said with a smile.

"Thank you Monath, I appreciate it."

Aeryn and the others walked up. Monath bowed to them all and turned back to me. "Until tomorrow then Commander." He walked away, the giantess following, staying just at his shoulder. She must have been his servant.

Chiana drew me away and we headed to the transport pod to go back to Moya. "Well? When do we meet him?"

"I meet him tomorrow Pip. Me. Alone. Just me, myself, and I." I said firmly. She batted her eyes at me, but I didn't change my expression.

"A warrior should be with you John, to meet this fighter on his own terms." D'Argo said. "I will go with you."

"I said I'd go alone D'Argo. These fighters are slaves, and one as valuable as that Sebacean will be guarded. I shouldn't have anything to worry about."

I stood staring at the view screen, the curve of the planet Moya was orbiting not registering to me. I adjusted a few controls on Moya's sensors absent-mindedly, running another scan for Peacekeeper vessels.

"John?" came a hushed voice behind me. "What are you looking for?" Zhaan asked.

"Just checking for Peacekeepers Zhaan. And thinking about that fighter. There was justš.. something about him."

"A brutal and barbaric sport." The priestess nearly spat. I raised my eyebrows at her outburst, a signal she had learned that meant I was surprised, but tactful enough not to say anything. "I'm sorry John, but that sort of arena combat reminds too much of myself before I rejoined the Seek."

I nodded and started another scan, this time of the planet below the Leviathan. I started mumbling to myself, but Zhaan must have overheard.The priestess moved up to stand next to me.

"John, do you think that warrior will be surprised to see you and Aeryn? From what we have been told, Sebaceans are not unknown on this planet," she said.

"It's not that. It just struck me that he's not Sebacean. I think he's human Zhaan, just like me." I turned to look in Zhaan's eyes, the longing on my face so apparent that the Pa'u reached on to stroke my cheek in sympathy. She had found members of her own species, even if they were all crazy, so she understood my need..

"What makes you think he's human John?" Zhaan asked as we stood staring at the planet below us.

"It's what he said after he'd won the fight." I said. "It's part of an old poem from Earth, called Jabberwocky."

Zhaan couldn't keep the puzzled look off her normally composed face. I could tell she wanted to ask what Jabberwocky meant.

"It was part of a book, Zhaan. Basically, the poem is about a young man who takes his magic sword to slay a terrible monster that hides in the forest. The only way he could know any of that poem is if he's from Earth, or someone from Earth told it to him. The name the crowd chanted is from another old Earth Poem called Kublai Khan." I recited what I could remember of the Coleridge poem for her.

"I see. I will pray to the Goddess that you find the answers you are looking for John." She smiled and left Command. "And I will pray that I understand your human poetry." She said as the door swung shut.

I went back to checking Moya's systems. I ran through what I could remember of Jabberwocky in my head. I came up with a bit of it that would let this Kublai Khan know that I knew about the poem, and if he was human, it should also clue him in that I was as well.

"Commander Crichton." Pilot's head appeared in the clamshell looking holoimager. "Monath is signaling Moya. I believe he'd like to speak to you."

"Put him through Pilot."

"Ah, Commander! How are you this fine morning?" the official asked, smiling broadly at me.

"I'm fine Monath. Tell Deetra she took us to the right man. The food he found for us is excellent. We haven't eaten that well in weekens." I figured some well-placed compliments wouldn't hurt, and might make the official more forthcoming about how he'd found this fighter.

"I'll be sure to let her know. Her uncle is a highly respected merchant, so I cannot fault her nepotism." I could swear he winked at me. "She asked me to let you know that he has nearly finished filling your requests, and will have it finished by the fifth bell, as promised."

"Thank you Monath, we're grateful for your help. Is there anything we can do for you?" I asked, hoping he'd set up that meeting he promised the night before.

"I have arranged for you to meet Khan, our fighter." Monath replied. "I must warn you, he's a strange individual."

"That's quite all right Monath. I'm used to dealing with strange people. I've been doing it for over a cycle now." I said, laughing.

"Excellent! Deetra will meet you at the same landing pad in an arn?" Monath asked.

"I'll see her there." I hit the switch to terminate the signal. Pilot's head appeared in the clamshell again.

"Commander Crichton, are you sure you wish to meet this fighter alone? Office Sun told me about this battle. He seems to be quite fearsome. Both Moya and I are concerned."

"Thanks Pilot, and thank you Moya." I replied, patting the console in front of me. "I'm betting they'll keep him under close guard, since he's so fearsome. Monath told me he hasn't lost yet, and he's been fighting for Monath's people for a few cycles."

"I'm still going with you Crichton." Aeryn said from the door to Command. "If you're supposed to meet Deetra in an arn we'd best get going."

I knew trying to tell Aeryn to stay here would be futile, so we headed off to the docking bay.

"John, I don't want you to get your hopes up to much. If this Kublai Khan is human, he's been in the Uncharted Territories for three cycles at least. He may be even stranger than you." Aeryn said as we flew down to the landing area. "Those people on the Royal Planet may have been Sebaceans, but they were as alien to me as you."

"You had at least one thing in common with them Aeryn, you're one of them. Sebacean. You could have stayed and been among your own people." I said.

"I could not have stayed there John." She told me flatly. That pretty much ended that conversation.

Shortly, we landed. Deetra almost ran to join us, smiling broadly. She took both our hands and dragged us down the steps to the waiting vehicle. We climbed in, and she headed in the same direction we'd been the day before. We bypassed the markets though, and made our way towards a large building, three stories tall, and as wide and as long as a football field.

Deetra parked, and herded us towards the main doors. There was a pair of guards who swung the doors open as we approached. Monath was waiting for just inside.

"Welcome! Please, follow me." He led us down a side corridor, stopping in a room with four guards and several cabinets with locks. It reminded me of rental lockers in a bus station.

"Guests are not allowed weapons here." He said, bowing slightly. "It is for your protection as well as the protection of our property."

"Oh, so some slaves don't want to be slaves? Worried they might try to escape?" I said. I could hardly keep the contempt out of my voice. For all the technologically advanced races I'd met, some were still very ignorant.

"It's not that Commander. We have had a few incidents where competitive nations have sent assassins to eliminate a particular fighter from battling their own champion. We really don't like cheating." Monath sniffed.

"Cheating is bad, but owning another living being is acceptable?" I asked incredulously.

"Crichton." Aeryn said quietly.

I handed over my pulse pistols, and Aeryn gave hers to the same guard. He locked them up in a cabinet and handed the key to Aeryn. I decided not to ask about claim check tickets.

Monath nodded to the guards and led us back to the main hall of the building. I guessed it must be the barracks where they housed their property. The thought of it made me sick. Scorpy whispered in my head that it wasn't so very different from our situation. He'd keep me safe as long as I performed for him, much like these slaves. I ignored him as best I could and trailed along behind Aeryn. Monath led us up a grand staircase, and along a walkway that looked out over some training room. There must have been 30 people down there, practicing with all kinds of weapons. I spotted a Luxan, a Scorvian, and others I couldn't put a name to. There were guards along the edge of the room, I figured about 4 guards per slave.

Monath motioned us down a flight of stairs, and into a room with only 4 guards, one at each corner. The room itself only about 25 feet square, and the man I'd come to meet was kneeling in the center of it.

"Here he is Commander. I'll wait outside, just knock when you're done." Monath left, and I heard a heavy clunking noise as some sort of lock slid into place.

Khan stared at us. He seemed to ignore the guards around us. He also seemed to ignore the large collar around his neck. One of the guards stepped up to me and said quietly, "If he gets out of control, that collar will send half a dozen needles into his neck, knocking him out in just a few microts."

I could see Khan smirk over the guard's shoulder. It appeared he was familiar with the collar and it's effects. I walked to within a few paces of Khan. He looked up at me without any expression on his face. "What you said yesterday after defeating your opponent, where did you first hear that?" I asked.

"Why?"

"I'm curious. It reminds me of some literature from my home." I said, wondering if he thought I was an insane Sebacean.

"I doubt that." He snorted. "Sebaceans don't write poetry."

I decided to play my card, to see how he would react. I whispered just loud enough for him to hear.

"'And, has thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!' He chortled in his joy."

He didn't changed position, but he went as white as a sheet

"You may leave now." Aeryn told the guards. She'd caught the look on his f ace.

"We are not supposed to leave property unattended." That first guard said.

"Give me the remote. I believe the two of us can handle him." She held her hand out for the remote. The guards looked at each other, then the one handed over the remote, and the guards slowly filed out through a door I hadn't noticed in a dark corner. I heard a click as that door locked too.

Khan jumped up as soon as the door locked. "How do you know that?" he demanded. "No one in the Uncharted Territories should know that poem!" His eyes flashed in anger. It was if I'd stolen something from him.

I walked towards him and stood very close. Aeryn waggled that remote where he could see it.

"My name is Commander John Crichton. I'm an IASA astronaut. I was testing my own spacecraft, doing acceleration tests when I got shot through a wormhole to this part of the universe. During the tests, I lived in Florida. In the United States of America. On Earth." I said just above a whisper. I wasn't sure if this room was bugged, but I was fairly certain it was.

Khan gripped my arm, tighter and tighter as I told him who I really was. "My name is Gabriel. Gabriel Simons. I'm from just outside Seattle. I was a graduate student, on a camping trip when I was taken. As near as I can make it, I've been stuck out here for 4 years." He started falling forward, like he was about to faint. As pale as he'd gotten I thought he just might have passed out.

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