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No Place Like Home

By Psyscaper


Disclaimer: Farscape is owned by the Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Entertainment and Nine Network Australia. I'm only borrowing these characters and promise to return them in good working order. Well, all but one of them, anyway. Please don't sue me; I'm already broke.

Spoilers: Premier, A Human Reaction, Nerve, The Hidden Memory, Look At The Princess Part 2: I Do, I Think, Won't Get Fooled Again


Author's note: This takes place immediately following Fractures. Special thanks go to my beta-reader, Teri Woolley. Constructive feedback is always appreciated and can be sent to farscape19@hotmail.com


She moved quickly through the crowded bazaar, heading for the far end where most of the weapons dealers gathered. Well, as quickly as she could, sidestepping the many gesticulating shoppers pressing three and four deep on both sides of the narrow street as they haggled loudly over various merchandise. Passing an intersection, she nearly gagged at the smell emanating from a food trader. She shook her head and winced. The commerce planet was hot and the air seemed to hang close to her like a fog. There was no wind. Even if there were, there was no place for it to go. The high stone buildings and close, narrow streets made it virtually impossible for the air to move anyway. The din was ear splitting and she was glad they hadn't brought Chiana or Rygel planet side. She didn't want to be stuck on this rock any longer than absolutely necessary.

Aeryn's PK training kicked in as soon as she made it to the first weapons dealer. It wasn't quite as crowded at this end of the bazaar, which afforded her the opportunity to quickly scan the wares laid out on the tables. As she looked over the merchandise, she went through her mental shopping list: chakan oil for the pulse weapons; frag canisters - preferably with explosives, although empty canisters would do, they'd just have to make their own bombs; wiring and chrono mechanisms. Oh, and a couple of pulse rifles wouldn't hurt.

She wasn't terribly impressed with anything the first three merchants had, but one of the others looked promising. She leaned in to inspect the condition of some frag bombs. Not too bad. A few had explosive charges that appeared to be in pretty good shape. Most of the rest at least weren't ruptured. Plenty of chakan oil, fairly clean, too. She picked up a PK issue disrupter rifle, assessing the weight and balance. Satisfied, she checked every moving part as well as the oil reservoir. Everything was in good shape. This was definitely a find. She'd been hoping to find standard pulse rifles. A disrupter was top of the line. Assassination and retrieval squads were the only PKs to use them. It appeared to be relatively new, too. Probably hadn't been used all that much.

She nodded at the proprietor, a giant insect with huge multi-faceted eyes, six arms and a shiny black carapace. "I'll take this, the chakan oil and those frag bombs and canisters there," she told it, laying the disrupter back down on the table.

Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out some currency. The seller hissed a stream of foul mist out of his mandible. Looking directly at the currency, it nodded its head and named its price, "4000 kretmas."

Aeryn stared at it for a microt. "Don't be a drannit," she told him. "You know very well this lot isn't worth even 2000 kretmas. But, I'm in a hurry, so I'll humor you. 3000. Take it or leave it." It was a gamble and she knew it. The disrupter alone was worth at least 2000. She only hoped the dealer didn't realize what he had. She held her breath, waiting for his response.

The dealer started to protest, but quickly acquiesced when Aeryn put her hand back in her pocket and started to move away.

With the transaction completed, the ex-Peacekeeper made her way back to the transport pod, keeping an eye out for Crichton as well as any sign of potential trouble. She stowed the weapons quickly and stood on the pod's ramp. Wiping the sweat off her brow, she cursed the heat and humidity. D'Argo should have come down here with John, she thought. "It's too frelling hot for Sebaceans," Aeryn muttered to herself. She checked her chronometer. It was getting late. Aeryn headed back to the bazaar, scanning the area as she walked.

Two prowlers were just landing as she made her way out of the spaceport. "Frell!" she said to herself. "That's a problem." She picked up the pace, taking the most direct route back to the center of the marketplace. She needed to find Crichton, quickly.

Aeryn stopped at the first intersection and stepped up on a low wall separating two merchant stalls. She scanned the crowd in all directions. There were very few Sebaceans. That was a good thing; it would make it easier to find Crichton. She looked back the way she had come. She could see the two Peacekeepers entering the market. They turned left down an alley to cut across to the next street. Aeryn decided it would be best not to let them get too far away. She headed down the street parallel to the alley, occasionally pushing people out of her way.

When she got to the next intersection, she stopped again to look around. The street to her left was much less crowded than the others. The Peacekeepers were walking toward her position. She spotted Crichton several hentas away from the PKs, walking toward them. He didn't see them. Aeryn started up the street behind Crichton, moving as quickly as possible without attracting attention and keeping an eye on the PKs. She tried to stay in the shadows as much as possible. She caught up with Crichton only a few hentas away from the Peacekeepers, who spotted her just as she was about to get Crichton's attention.

"Crichton!" she shouted.

The PKs drew their weapons, but Aeryn managed to get a shot off first. The pulse blast hit one of the PKs who fell to the ground.

Screams filled the air as shoppers ducked and started running away from the confrontation. Some dove behind merchants' tables.

"Aeryn! Get down!" Crichton pulled her down behind him. His right hand moved to his sidearm and pulled it from the holster. A pulse blast from the second PK hit the wall where Aeryn had been standing. Crichton fired and hit the PK in the leg. A second shot from Aeryn finished the firefight, hitting the PK square in the chest.

Their weapons trained on the fallen Peacekeepers, Crichton and Aeryn walked over to check them out. One was dead, the other unconscious. They removed the pulse weapons and comms, gathered the supplies Crichton had been carrying and hurried back toward the spaceport.

"They brought two prowlers," Aeryn informed him as they walked. "You get back to the transport pod. I'm going to make sure they can't use the prowlers to contact their unit."

"Be careful, Aeryn. I've got a feeling there may be more than just these two." Crichton gave her a worried look, nodded to her and made his way back to the pod. Once there, he quickly stowed the rest of the supplies and started preflight. Then he commed Aeryn, "How long 'til you get back here, Aeryn?"

"Change of plan, Crichton," she replied. "Some of the locals must have notified the constabulary about the shooting. They're closing in on my position. I'm taking a prowler. You get going. I'll meet you back on Talyn." With that, the transmission ended.

"Damn!" Crichton raised the loading ramp and sealed the doors. He decided to skip the rest of the preflight check and fired up the engines. Out of the center view plate transparencies he saw a small contingent of local law enforcement running toward the pod. He lifted the pod off its pad and turned away from the advancing security troops.


* * * * *

The plan had seemed simple enough. Find Scorpius' command carrier, wait just out of range until a patrol was sent out and follow it back to the command carrier when they returned. Plant the frag bombs in the generator core and propulsion systems, rendezvous back at Aeryn's prowler and get the frell out of there before the carrier blew. Simple.

And watching the carrier blow all to hell was a very beautiful sight. But now, as he completed another pass through the debris field, Crichton was kicking himself for allowing Aeryn to talk him into splitting up on the carrier.

"We need to get the bombs set and get off this ship as quickly as possible. That means splitting up," she'd argued. He'd tried to convince her they should stick together, but as usual, once her mind was made up, there was no changing it. So they'd split up with Aeryn heading for the generator and Crichton for the propulsion system.

Setting the bombs had been easy enough. But, Crichton had almost run into Scorpius on the way out. He'd managed to hide in a small access shaft. He'd barely had time to replace the cover before Scorpius passed. The Scarren-Sebacean hybrid paused momentarily as if sensing something was amiss. Unable to pin down exactly what it was, he eventually continued down the corridor.

Crichton checked his chrono. The bombs were about to detonate. He'd have to haul ass back to the hangar bay. An intruder alert went off just as he entered the cavernous hangar. A quick scan of the bay told him Aeryn's prowler was gone. Someone aboard the carrier had apparently noticed, too; hence the alert. He could only assume she'd waited as long as possible before hightailing it out of there. He'd have to find some alternate transportation.

Luckily, Crichton had some experience flying prowlers. What he didn't know how to do was hot-wire one. Once again, Lady Luck smiled on him. Another prowler detail was being readied to go after the intruder. The PK techs had one prowler ready to go. John strode up to it and climbed into the cockpit. With his flight helmet on, the techs assumed he was the actual pilot; they gave the all-clear signal and waved him out of the hangar bay. He had just barely made it out of range before the carrier blew.

When he'd made it back to Talyn, Crichton was surprised and concerned when Crais told him Aeryn had not yet returned. He quickly refueled his Farscape module and headed back out to look for her. There was a single star and planet in the system close to the debris field. Crais and Talyn took the section of the field farthest from the star to minimize the impact of the solar flares on the leviathan-gunship. Crichton took the section closest to the star and began sweeping the field. He had spent the last several arns criss-crossing the debris field and still no sign of Aeryn or her prowler.

Rubbing his eyes and stretching his neck, he turned at the far end of his sweep to start yet another pass. Blinking, he noticed a slight blip on the display screen above the instrument console. According to the display, there was a small ship just beyond the planet. "Aeryn?!" he called out hopefully as he swung his module in the direction of the ship.

"Crichton!" Aeryn's voice crackled through his comm. "I got hit by debris. Propulsion...sens... are gone. Direction... thrusters non-functioning... dead in space. The flares... frelling with my comms......there?! Can...hear..."

John's face lit up with a smile. "Hang on, baby!! I'm coming!" Then he commed Talyn. "Crais, did you get that? Looks like Aeryn's on the other side of the planet. I'm on my way to her now, but Talyn'll probably have to tow her in."

Aboard Talyn, Crais instantly turned the leviathan gunship in the direction of Crichton's signal. "Talyn can't get too close to the star because of the flares, but we'll get as close as we can. He's picked up Aeryn on his sensors now."

The prowler slowly came into view in front of John. As the module curved around the planet, another, larger ship could be seen several metras behind the prowler.  "Frell!!" Crichton's face fell. A Peacekeeper marauder was bearing down on Aeryn's prowler from the opposite direction.

Crichton opened the throttle, gaining speed, and cut into the planet's atmosphere as he tried to close the gap between himself and the prowler. As he neared maximum velocity he could see that even with a sling shot maneuver, the marauder would probably get there first. Still, he gritted his teeth and changed course as soon as he hit perigee. He aimed a trajectory straight for the prowler, picking up speed exponentially.

"John!! I can see you now," Aeryn's voice rang with relief. "I wasn't sure you'd made it off the carrier. Where's Talyn? We'll need his docking web to get me back aboard. The sooner the better," she said. She knew at least one marauder had escaped the carrier's destruction and wasn't keen on being caught by it.

Before he could answer, the marauder reached the prowler and extended it's docking arms.

"Crichton!!" Aeryn cried. Looking over her shoulder she could now see the Peacekeeper ship drawing her in. "Crais!! Where the frell are you?!" Aeryn was getting desperate. But, Talyn was still too far away. Weaving in and out amongst the remnants of the command carrier, Crais knew they weren't going to make it in time.

Not knowing what he could do, Crichton tried to push every last drop of speed from the module, willing it move faster than he knew it could. He was just about at the outer edge of the planet's atmosphere when the module started to shimmy and an eerie blue light glowed through the cockpit. He turned and looked out into the mouth of the wormhole he'd just created.

Crichton fought to maintain control of the module as the gravity well from the wormhole pulled him inexorably toward itself. Looking back toward the prowler, his cry was just as desperate as Aeryn's had been.


The last thing he saw before being swallowed up in the wormhole's blue glow was the marauder's hangar bay door closing around the prowler. The last thing he heard was the frenzied cry of the woman he loved more than anything.


* * * * *

Crichton lay on a cot in a small room, one arm covering his eyes. The room contained the cot, a small desk and chair and a nightstand. Untouched on the desk was a tray of food. On the wall at the foot of the cot was a door to a small lavatory. On the opposite wall was a door to the hallway; he knew an Air Reserve MP stood on the other side. He had poked his head out shortly after the base and NORAD commanders had left. Until he figured out the game, there was no point trying to get out.

He went through the events of the last two days again. The wormhole had spit him out in the upper atmosphere of a blue planet that looked remarkably like Earth.

Just what I need, he'd thought. Another mind frell.

He remembered how the Ancients had created an Earth-like environment from his memories. And when D'Argo, Aeryn and Rygel had followed him through the Ancients' fake wormhole, they'd made him think Rygel had died and been dissected and that Aeryn and D'Argo would be next.

One of the aliens had even taken the form of his father. Looking back, that had been the hardest part of the deception to deal with. It wasn't bad enough they'd made him think he'd come home or that his friends were in danger from his own people. That would have been bad enough. No, they had to make him think he'd reconnected with his father. He'd even had a heart-to-heart with his 'dad'. He'd felt that his dad finally understood what it had been like for him, growing up in his astronaut-father's shadow. Yeah, he thought, I wasn't homesick enough.

The fact that the Ancients had 'given' him a leg up on wormhole technology wasn't much consolation, either. Thanks to the equations they'd put deep in his subconscious, he'd been on the run for the past two cycles from probably the cruelest, most ruthless being in the universe.

Scorpius had stumbled across the equations when he'd had Crichton in his Aurora chair, a nifty little torture device that basically rips thoughts and memories from its occupants' minds. Crichton hadn't even known the equations were there until Scorpius found them.

John had ended up in the chair while trying to get a Sebacean tissue sample to save Aeryn from certain death. Scorpius' ability to discern deception had tipped him off to Crichton's ruse and the rest, as they say, was history.  When the chair failed to extract the information, Scorpius had implanted a neural chip containing a copy of his personality in Crichton's head. The chip had damn near driven him insane.

But, it had saved him from a Scarren-induced 'Earth' insanity trip. He'd woken up one day to find himself in a hospital room. His 'father' was there and he'd explained that the Farscape experiment had failed, that he'd crashed the module and been in a coma for a week. Of course, John didn't buy it for second. When Aeryn had walked in dressed as a doctor and introduced herself as 'Bettina Fairchild', his suspicions were confirmed. Things went downhill pretty quick from there.

It seems the Scarren was taking John's memories and twisting them in an attempt to drive him insane. The goal, apparently, was to determine what it was that Scorpius wanted from Crichton. It had almost worked, too. Especially after Crichton's dead mother showed up in a bar begging him to 'stay with' her 'this time' as she died. The Scorpius clone manifested itself in the hallucination and urged John to fight the Scarren's attempts to break him down. In the end the clone had stopped John's heartbeat long enough to convince the Scarren that he was dead and John had killed the Scarren.

His thoughts drifted back to his arrival on this particular world. As he'd flown, he'd recognized various cities along the seaboard of what appeared to be the southeastern United States. He'd been impressed with the level of detail. It looked pretty much as he remembered it. Of course, whoever was behind this was probably using his own memories to create the scenario. It stood to reason that things would be exactly as he remembered.

The fighter escort was a new wrinkle, though. For some reason he hadn't thought to turn Farscape One's radio on when he'd arrived. He'd only thought of it when he saw the two F-15s headed his way. Turning it on, he heard the voice of one of the pilots.

"...unidentified aircraft. You have violated United States airspace. Identify yourself immediately. Failure to do so will result in the application of terminal force. I repeat. You have violated United States airspace. Identify yourself. If you do not do so immediately, you will be shot down."

Hmm. That's new, he thought. Not something I would have expected, but okay; let's see where they're going with this. He hit the transceiver control.

"This is Farscape 1. Commander John Crichton, IASA astronaut. I'm just on my way to Canaveral. Over." He waited for the reply.

"Farscape 1, this is Major Fuhrman, NORAD Alert Detachment, 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard. We will escort you to Homestead Air Reserve Base. You will not deviate from this course. Any deviation will result in the use of terminal force. Do you understand? Over."

"Affirmative, Major. I understand," Crichton replied. He didn't know what was going on, but he was pretty sure this was not the Earth he knew.

After landing at Homestead, he'd been taken under arrest, given a physical and brought to this comfy little room. The base commander and the NORAD unit's CO had shown up asking the usual questions: Who was he, really? Why hadn't he responded to the air traffic controllers? Why wasn't a flight plan filed? And, most importantly, why didn't anyone at Air Force Space Command and Kennedy Space Center know about his flight?

Fed up with the mind games, he decided he wasn't going to cooperate this time. Staring the commanders in the eye, he said nothing. What were they going to do, kill him? After an hour or so, they gave up and left. He'd refused to talk to anyone else they sent in, too. They'd even sent Dr. Logan, the former director of the Farscape project. That had been tough. He'd almost started talking to him. Then he remembered the last two times he'd been on 'Earth' and the wall slammed down again. He still didn't understand the game and thought he might have to start talking in order to get some information from his captors. Or, he could just try to wait them out. Wait 'til they gave away their motives.

Outside in the hallway, two men approached. The MP snapped to attention as they reached the room.

"Colonel Crichton," he nodded to the elder gentleman, then to the younger man, "Dr. Kroger."

"Sergeant Cobb," Jack Crichton addressed the MP. "I'm here to see my son." He was angry that NORAD had waited more than a day to inform him of his son's return.

"How is he?" asked David Kroger.

Cobb frowned, "Not good. He hasn't said more than two words since he got here and from what I hear, he hasn't eaten anything in two days. Rumor is he just sits there staring into space." He shook his head sadly. "I don't get it. Why wouldn't he talk?"

"Well, there's only one way to find out," Jack said. He stepped past Cobb, took a deep breath to settle the rattlers in his stomach and opened the door.

Damn, John thought, my head is killing me. He knew he should eat something, but couldn't bring himself to. He heard the door open as someone stepped in, then heard the door close. He didn't move, just waited for whoever it was to start talking.

Jack Crichton stood just inside the door, his eyes taking in the small room, past the food sitting on the desk, his gaze finally resting on the form on the cot. He felt his mouth go dry.

"John?" He could barely get the word out past the lump rising in his throat.

On the cot, John squeezed his eyes shut against the tears that threatened to spill over and kept his arm tight over them. He felt a lump rise in his own throat as his body tensed. It's not real, he told himself. It's not real. It's just another mind game; that's all. He's not my dad. He couldn't allow himself to even hope that it really was his father. He didn't think he could take it again if it wasn't.

Jack's heart sank with every second that passed without a response. He stepped over to the desk and pulled out the chair. Turning it around, he sat down near the head of the bed facing his son. He regarded him silently for a few moments then asked softly, "What happened to you, son?" He couldn't imagine what could have caused this kind of a reaction from him.

As he waited, as patiently as he could, for a reply, he thought back to the party they'd thrown after John returned from his first shuttle flight. He remembered how excited and awestruck John had been after being in space for the first time. He'd been on cloud nine and he got the biggest smile on his face when he tried to describe the experience to his sisters and friends. He soon became impatient for his next trip and he had come back from his second space flight just as excited as the first. He couldn't stop talking about what he'd seen and how he'd felt out there.

He was drawn out of his reverie by a soft mumbling emanating from the form on the bed. He looked up, trying to make out what his son was saying. John hadn't moved a muscle; his arm still draped over his eyes. It seemed that every muscle in his body was tensed at that moment.

"John?" he asked again softly. "What...?"

The mumbling continued, growing louder and more intense as the seconds passed. It sounded almost like a chant. It took a moment, but he finally figured out what his son was saying. The realization tore at his heart.

"It's not real!" John said. "It's Not Real!!" He sat up suddenly, his back to the wall. "YOU'RE NOT REAL!!!" he shouted venomously. He was red-faced and trembling; tears now flowing freely down his cheeks.

The hatred and loathing he saw in his son's eyes shocked Jack Crichton. "Son..." he started.

"Don't you call me that!!" John spat. "You are NOT my father!! You're not real!" He took a shaky breath and, still glaring at Jack, said menacingly, "Get. Out!"

Jack tried to calm his son down. "John..."

"Get Out!" he repeated, louder this time. When Jack didn't move he shouted, "Get Out! Get the fuck out!!"

Jack could see that John was losing what little control he seemed to have. He stood up slowly, raising his arms in an attempt to placate his son. "All right, John," he said cautiously. "I'm leaving." He backed slowly toward the door. When he reached it, he turned and placed a hand on the knob. With his head bowed, he took another deep breath and left the room.


* * * * *

Crichton paced around the small room. He'd been pacing on and off since his 'father' had left. The more he thought about the encounter, the more he felt he had to get out of there. He still hadn't figured out the game his captors were playing and he decided he really didn't care. It was time he found his module and got back into space. As much as he would have liked going home, he knew deep down that it was impossible. Even if this was Earth, and he didn't believe that it was, he knew he couldn't stay. The Peacekeepers would eventually follow. And that was the last thing he wanted.

He glanced up at the clock above the door. Nearly 2:00 AM. He started to pick up the chair when he noticed the food on the desk. The military had stopped leaving cooked food after the first three meals went untouched. What they'd left the last time was some kind of wrapped submarine sandwich, a bag of chips and a can of soda. John decided he was way too hungry to leave it. Besides, he was interested to see if it would taste the way he remembered.

He unwrapped the sandwich and took a bite. Roast beef, lettuce, tomato and a hint of mayo, he thought. A little dry, but not too bad, considering it's been sitting here for hours. He popped the tab on the soda can and took a long drink. He grunted in disgust after swallowing. Aw, I hate warm soda. Still, it was better than nothing and he needed something to wash down the sub. After finishing both and the chips, he grabbed the chair and went into the bathroom. Closing and locking the door behind him, he placed the back of the chair under the doorknob. That oughtta keep them busy for a while, he thought to himself. Then he closed the toilet lid and stepped up onto it to reach the small window above the washbasin. Quietly, he unlocked the window and opened it as far as it would go. It would be a tight fit. He reached through and grabbed the outside edge of the windowsill then hauled himself head first out the window.

Lucky for him, he was on the first floor. He hopped to his feet and slapped the dirt off his pants. Looking all around, he tried to figure out where he was in relation to the flight line. He figured they'd have put the Farscape module in some hangar and, most likely, would have started taking it apart by now. But, he had to chance it since it was his only way off this rock.

With nothing really to go by - all he knew was that he was somewhere west of the flight line - he decided to stick close to the building and headed to his right. It was the direction he'd been brought from when they took him to the room. If he could determine which buildings he'd gone through, he should be able to figure out his way back toward the hangars.

Crichton 'retraced' his steps, quickly figuring out which buildings he'd gone through and soon he'd made his way back to the row of hangars on the edge of the flight line. He stayed in the shadows and started checking out the hangars, keeping a wary eye out for any base personnel. He figured NORAD would have placed guards at the hangar containing his module. He didn't see any sentries on this side of the hangars, so he ran across the street between the two closest buildings. Once between them, he stopped and listened closely. Hearing nothing, he jogged to the other end of the buildings and stopped again to listen. Again hearing nothing, he carefully peeked around the corner. He saw no guards to the right. He checked the other way; no guards down there either.

Well, he thought, six of one, half a dozen of the other. He checked both directions again, then darted around to the left. There was only one other hangar beyond the one he was running past. If it wasn't in either of these, he'd just have to check the rest. When he reached the other side of the building, he stopped and checked around the corner before ducking between the two hangars. He stopped to listen again and this time he thought he heard noises coming from inside the last hangar. He looked back toward the street and noticed lights on in that building.

There was a door about halfway down the side of the hangar. He moved in front of it and carefully placed his hand on the knob. His heart pounding, he slowly tried the door. To his surprise, it opened. He stepped quietly into a lit hallway with doors on either side as well as at the other end.

He read the nameplates on the doors as he made his way down the hall. They were mostly offices and briefing rooms. These rooms were dark, but he could see light coming from the other side of the door at the end of the hallway. He stopped when he reached it and again listened closely. He could make out voices now and also heard the sound of tools being used. It was obvious that some sort of maintenance was going on in the hangar. His right hand instinctively moved to his leg, reaching for his pulse weapon. He cursed silently as he remembered the MPs had confiscated it. It's probably in a room somewhere with three or four techs trying reverse engineer it, he thought bitterly. Oh well, 'Once more unto the breach!'

He opened the door and walked into the main hangar. On either side of the door stood large shelving units stacked with various parts and boxes. He cautiously stepped to the edge of the shelf on the right and looked into the hangar. There in the middle of the maintenance area was the Farscape 1 module. Inside, around, under and on top of it were a number of mechanics and technicians. Some wore coveralls with Air Force insignia; others he recognized from the Farscape Project. He took a couple of steps inside the main hangar. No one seemed to notice him. He took a few more steps toward the module. The techs had removed some of the modifications he'd made during his time in the Uncharted Territories. The inertial stabilizers were in pieces on the floor and three techs were arguing over how to remove the hetch drive for study.

As he stood staring at what was left of his module, a man walked around the front of the craft and saw him. He walked up and faced Crichton.

"John," he said with some disbelief. "They let you out?"

"Ah, not exactly... DK," Crichton replied carefully. He looked closely at his friend. He looked older than he remembered. For some reason, it unsettled him a bit. "I see you guys have gotten off to a good start dismantling Farscape 1," his voice hinting at his anger.

"Yeah, well, NORAD tapped IASA pretty quickly when they figured out you are who you said you were." DK told him. "They didn't believe you at first. Like the rest of us, they thought you died when the Farscape experiment went bad."

"You mean IASA or NASA or somebody else didn't notice the distortion from the wormhole? They didn't see me coming?" John asked sarcastically.

DK paused a moment before speaking. "From what I heard IASA, NASA, the French, Germans, Japanese, the Russians... they all tracked you, bro. But, when NORAD got hold of you and they found out you'd identified yourself, IASA decided to wait until the Air Force contacted them. Didn't want to tip their hand, I guess."

DK regarded his childhood friend. He shook his head and chuckled. "My god, John, how did you survive out there?!"

"That, DK, is a very long story. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time. They're gonna notice I'm gone any time now. Any chance I could get you to stop what you're doing here?" he asked.

"You know, John, some of the modifications you've made are very intriguing," DK said. He pointed to the inertial stabilizers and the hetch drive in turn. "I'm guessing those extensions are dampers or stabilizers of some sort. And that propulsion system!" he exclaimed. "I can't wait to hear about that. It looks amazing." His face lit up with excitement, just like old times.

John smiled ruefully. "Yeah, that hetch drive is a real kick in the pants," he said. "And, I could really use it right now, DK, 'cause I need to get outta here." His voice belied his intensity.

DK saw the look in his friend's eyes and knew he wasn't kidding. "You're not staying?" he asked, unbelieving. He shook his head.

"What is with you, man?! I mean, you flip out on your old man; you went all psycho on him! You wouldn't even talk to him!?! And now, after a friendly little conversation with me, you're just gonna take off again?!" He looked at John, exasperation in his voice and on his face.

"Do you have any idea what that's going to do him, John? Do you have any idea what he went through when you disappeared? Do you even care anymore?! And God! What about your sisters, man?! What about them? They know now that you're alive. Hell, they're on their way down here right now. You're just going to take off without even seeing them?" he asked angrily.

John looked at the floor. "Look, DK, you don't understand..." he started.

"You're damn right I don't understand!" DK spat. He started to turn away, then stopped and looked John in the eye. "I don't know what happened to you out there," he said softly. "But, you sure aren't the John Crichton I knew." He turned away again. "You do what you have to do, John. And so will I." With that, he walked back to the module and leaned heavily against it.

Crichton looked around the hangar. The techs and mechanics were all staring at him. Realizing he wasn't going to get the module, he turned around and started back for the hallway he'd come in through.

"'Bye, DK," he whispered past the lump that had risen in his throat. He walked quickly back through the hallway and out the door. Once outside, he leaned against the wall and struggled to regain composure. He started repeating to himself the mantra that had gotten him through this far, "It's not real. It's not real. It's not real."

Once he'd calmed down, he tried to come up with a fallback plan. He'd been counting on getting his module back. Without it he was more or less screwed. There was no way he'd get back into space now. But, he knew he had to get off this base. He tried to remember the layout from his final approach. The main runway was on the coast-side of the base, a line of trees marking the eastern perimeter. The hangars were inland from the runway. That meant his best bet would be to cross the airfield and head for the trees. Hopefully he'd find some way to get outside the perimeter fencing once he got to it. He went back to the runway side of the hangar and stopped to check for MPs. Seeing no one, he darted across the taxiway toward the main runway. While there were ground lights marking the taxiways and runways, there weren't any overhead lights. That made it easier for him to remain concealed.

When he got past the runway, he ran into the thick stand of trees and stopped to catch his breath and get his bearings. He started walking toward where he thought the fence should be. When he got the fence, he started looking for a way out.

He looked up at the razor wire topping the 12-foot chain-link fence. It was pointed outward, which meant it was designed to keep people out, not in. That would make it easier, but he still preferred a safer approach. He walked the fence for several hundred feet looking for hole. What he found was a drainage ditch with a pipe that looked like it passed under the fence. He jumped down into it and entered the pipe. He got all the way to the end, but was stopped by a locked security gate. There was a little room at the top of the gate, but it wasn't nearly enough for him to get through. He shook the gate in frustration, then turned around and headed back through the pipe.

He climbed back out of the ditch and heard dogs barking in the distance. It sounded like they were coming toward him from both directions along the fence. Looking up at the top of the fence and seeing no other choice, he started climbing. He still wasn't sure how he was going to navigate the razor wire. As he reached the top, he could hear the dogs and the MPs shouting. He put his right foot and left knee on the top fence rail and used both hands to try and keep his balance. His only hope was to try to jump over the wire. He tried to get his left foot up on the top rail, but started to lose his balance and just pushed off with his right leg, trying to dive forward over the wire. He felt the wire slice into his left leg just above the knee as he went over and pulled his leg back to avoid getting it caught.

"Oh, shi-!" he yelled as he pitched headfirst toward the ground. He put his arms out to help break his fall and tried to twist his body so he wouldn't land on his head or back. He heard the crack as his right wrist broke on impact a split second before his head hit the ground. He saw a flash of white, then nothing.

He regained consciousness a moment later. He'd landed on his right side with this arm underneath his body. He felt something warm in his eye and saw the bloody rock his head had hit as he tried to pull himself up. Pain shot through his arm when he put his weight on it and he immediately dropped back to the ground. He groaned as the MPs came up to his position on the other side of the fence. He heard them radio for a medic and a stretcher before succumbing to pain and exhaustion.

Part 2 >>

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