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<< Continued from part 1

* * * * *

Jack Crichton had fallen asleep waiting for his son to regain consciousness. He sat in a chair next to the bed in the base hospital room. A groan and the sound of rustling sheets woke him with a start. He shook himself alert and looked over at the bed. John had begun tossing and turning. A look of pain and fear crossed his face and he cried out, "No!"

Jack jumped up and touched his son's arm. "John?" he said.

John cried out again and wrenched his arm from his father's grip, ripping the IV out and leaving the fluid dripping onto the floor. He rolled away and tucked himself into a fetal position, his hands covering his face and head. His body shook with fear and he whimpered softly, "No. Please. No more. No more" He didn't wake up.

Jack walked around the bed and sat down near John's head. He gently laid his hand on the back of his son's head, caressing it tenderly. He spoke softly, "It's going to be alright, son. Everything's going to be all right. You're safe now."

Eventually, John stopped whimpering and rolled onto his back again. Jack stood up and went to get a nurse to hook the IV back up. He thanked her as she left the room and he walked slowly back toward the chair, watching his son sleep.

He was still shocked by how much John had changed. The years in space had not been kind. His eyes were bloodshot and puffy; the dark circles under them appeared permanently etched. His cheeks were drawn and had lost their fullness, making his face look a little more angular and his mouth formed a seemingly perpetual frown. A few solitary strands of gray hair had started to appear. He looked much older than the five years he'd been missing would have implied.

He stopped as he passed the small bureau against the wall and stared into the mirror above it. For the first time in a long time he noticed the lines that had been etched into his own face in the intervening years.

He sank heavily into the chair, propped his head on his arm and continued watching his son.

Sometime later, John groaned slightly as he slowly opened his eyes. His head still hurt, only worse now. And for some reason, his arm and left leg hurt, too. He brought his right arm up to check his head and saw the cast on the wrist. Then he remembered his less than graceful dive over the security fence. He looked to his left and saw the IV connected to his arm and his father in the chair next to the bed. No, he corrected himself. That's an alien posing as my dad.

He turned toward the door as he heard it open. DK took a step inside and stood there holding the door open. Behind him was a woman; John couldn't make out who it was until she stepped slightly to her left.

"Jen?" he said softly. His little sister looked the same as he remembered, yet somehow different. Her face looked a bit fuller than he recalled. As she stepped around DK and walked to the side of the bed, he saw why. "You're pregnant," he said, surprised.

Jenna laughed. "That's what I love about you, John," she smiled at him. "You're sharp!" She reached out and took his left hand in hers. His gaze fell on the ring on her finger.

"You're married?!" he asked. Okay, he thought, what the hell is going on? She was not married when I left Earth. But, then, she wasn't pregnant, either.

DK stepped beside Jenna and put his arm around her.

"Wait a minute!" John said. "You married him?! DK?!" He looked at his sister, then at his friend and shook his head. He vaguely recalled Jen having a crush on DK when she was a teenager, but he thought that was so over years ago.

Before he had a chance to question them further, two men strode into the room. The first was in uniform and John recognized him as the NORAD commander. The second man, whom he didn't recognize, wore a suit and carried a briefcase.

"Colonel Crichton, Dr. Kroger, Mrs. Kroger, if you'll excuse us, we have urgent business to discuss with the commander." The suit started to usher DK and Jen out of the room and gestured for Jack to follow them.

"Hold on," John said, raising the bed so he could sit up and looking at the man. "Just who the hell are you? And what makes you think I'm going to discuss anything with you or anybody else?"

The suit returned his glare indignantly. "Commander Crichton, I am Dr. James Adamson, Executive Director of the International Aero Space Administration. And you will tell us what we want to know. Now, Dr. Kroger, ma'am, if you'll just step outside. Colonel..."

"Uh-uh," Crichton shook his head, never taking his eyes off Adamson. "I don't think so," he said. "You want to ask me something, go ahead. Doesn't mean I'm gonna answer." He paused, "But they stay."

"Commander Crichton," the NORAD officer, Colonel Nedved, stepped forward. "What we need to discuss is classified as a matter of national security. I'm afraid we need to clear the room."

"Fine," John replied, staring him down. "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."

Adamson looked at the officer. "We don't have time for this." He balanced his briefcase on the end of the bed and opened it, taking out two file folders. Handing the folders to Colonel Nedved, he then closed the briefcase and set it on the floor.

Nedved stepped over next to Jack Crichton. Addressing John, he said, "Approximately 20 hours after you arrived here, another ship was detected exiting the 'wormhole', for lack of a better word. A third ship was detected approximately 15 hours after that. The International Space Station as well as several military and government satellites captured images of both those ships." He handed the folders to John. "Do you recognize either of them?"

Crichton opened the top folder. The first image was taken from a distance and he couldn't make out the ship. He flipped to the next one and his heart skipped. He closed his eyes and shuddered almost imperceptibly. His reaction wasn't lost on his father, however.

"Do you recognize it?" Nedved asked.

Crichton looked through the rest of the photos without answering. Whoever's pulling the strings here either already knows the answer and is looking for a reaction, or they don't have a clue, he thought.

"Friends of yours?" Nedved again.

John chuckled mirthlessly, but said nothing.

Well, he thought to himself, if they're really here, and they're not just part of the game, they're looking for me. He looked around the room. If this is some kind of game, they're playing it well, he thought. It still didn't feel right to him, but there was enough to keep him guessing. All the changes he'd noticed in his family and DK were plausible enough. Jen and DK being married. Okay, I'm not too sure about that one, but I guess it's possible, he thought. Everyone looked a little older. Except dad, he thought. He looked at his father. He looks more than a little older, he thought. All the changes were perfectly believable. Of course, they could easily be extrapolated from his memories, too.

He noticed a newspaper on the bureau. "Hand me that paper, will you," he asked.

Jack handed him the paper and he looked it over. It was the sports section of the Miami Herald. He read the headline; Panthers clip Wings 3-2 in overtime, force game 7. Stanley Cup hockey. He'd never really been a hockey fan. He tried to think of a time when he would have paid any attention to it. It wasn't something he was consciously aware of. This could be real, John thought. But then, he hadn't known the wormhole equations were there, either. He looked at the date on the paper. June 15, 2004. Five years. He thought about it for a moment. It was conceivable. The wormhole was, after all, a distortion of space-time. Three years in the UT could translate to five years on Earth. At least, he thought it could. His head began to throb again. Ah Hell, he thought despairingly, I don't know. I just don't know.

 

* * * * *

Jack and DK had stepped outside. Jen maneuvered herself into the chair next to the bed. Her brow wrinkled as she considered her older brother. She had caught Jack's look of concern when John had first saw the photos of the ships. She knew he suspected John was lying.

"So, John," she said, "who are these aliens, anyway? Are they your friends? Or are they the first wave of the apocalypse?"

John looked at her, feigning ignorance. "What do you mean?" he asked, though he was pretty sure he knew.

She smirked at him. "Come on, John. You know you never could lie to dad." She shifted uncomfortably in the chair. "He knows it, too. He's going to come back in here and demand that you start talking." She frowned. "He'll badger you until the two of you end up shouting at each other and one or both of you will say something you'll regret." She paused.

"You know I'm right," she said after a moment.

He looked at her for a moment, then down at the bed. He struggled with his feelings of confusion and depression. He really needed to talk; he knew that. He didn't know what to do, what to believe. Didn't know who, if anyone, he could trust. Back on Moya, he'd at least had D'Argo or Chiana or even Pilot to talk to. He missed his friends and briefly wondered how they were faring. They hadn't approved of the plan to go after Scorpius, but they'd stood by him. He knew he could count on them. But they were on the other side of the universe.

His thoughts turned to Aeryn. God, I wish you were here, baby, he thought, as if she could hear it. Even when they weren't getting along, they could always talk. He trusted her to give him the straight deal, no dren. No matter what. Thinking of her brought yet another wave of despair.  He didn't know if she was alive or dead. He might never know.

Jack walked back into the room shaking his head. DK followed him in. "Jack, you haven't eaten or slept in two days. You need to rest, too, you know. Why don't you and Jen go get something to eat? I can stay with John," he said.

"No," Jack replied. "I'm fine. I'm just going to stay here for a while."

It was DK's turn to shake his head. "You're as bad as he is," he said, gesturing toward John. "Both of you are stubborn as mules."

Jen smiled, "Well, what did you expect? Where did you think John got it from?"

"Same place you did, I guess" DK said. "Speaking of which, how're you doing? When's the last time you had something to eat?"

"It's been a while, but I'm okay," she told him.

"Uh-huh," he replied. He walked over to where she was sitting. "Come on, you've got a baby to feed," he said, leaning down to help her out of the chair. He looked over at John who was still staring down at the bed. "We'll be back, bro." John didn't answer.

"No, I'm fine, DK. I'm not hungry," Jen lied. She was hungry, but she was more worried about leaving John alone with their dad. Looking over at him, her concern grew. He hadn't moved since Jack and DK had come back into the room. Something was obviously wrong; he looked so lost and alone. Jack had noticed, too.

"I'm not taking no for an answer, honey," DK said firmly. "You may not be hungry, but I'll bet our baby is. If your dad's not going to take you to get something to eat, then I will. Come on. Let's go."

Jen sighed. "Oh, all right," she said. She didn't want to fight about it. DK helped her out of the chair and she leaned over to give her brother a hug. "Do me a favor, John; talk to dad," she whispered to him, then kissed him on the cheek.

"You want us to bring something back for you?" DK asked.

John didn't answer, just continued staring down at the bed.

DK shot Jack a worried glance. "How about you, Jack?" he asked.

"Hmm? Oh, no that's all right. I'm fine," he answered. He was concerned about John as well.

Jen and DK walked out of the room, leaving father and son alone in their respective reveries.

After a moment, Jack sat down next to the bed. "So," he said quietly. "Who are these aliens?" He watched John, trying to read his reaction to the question. John just tilted his head to one side. He didn't answer.

"I know you recognized those ships," Jack continued. "And I got the feeling you've had a run in with at least the first one. What's going on, son?" He spoke quietly and carefully, trying to gauge his son's mood.

"I don't know," John said softly. "I wish I did." He didn't look at his father, just stared straight ahead. He was tired of playing games, tired of trying to figure out what was real and what wasn't. Truth be told, he had no idea. He just wanted it to be over.

Jack was relieved that John was talking at last. "When I first came to see you," he said slowly, "you said I wasn't 'real'. What makes you think that?" he asked carefully.

John shook his head sadly. "That is a very long story," he said. "One I really don't want to go into. Let's just say if there's one thing I've learned in three cycles in the Uncharted Territories," he paused, drawing a shaky breath. "It's that I can't trust my own mind. At least," he continued sadly, "not where Earth is concerned."

He turned slightly toward his dad, though still not looking at him. "I don't know what's real anymore," he despaired. He laughed dejectedly, "For all I know, I could be in some alien laboratory getting my brain sucked out.

He looked around the room. "Maybe all of this is real," he said. "Then again, maybe none of it is." He turned to look at his father, tears forming in his eyes. "I just don't know anymore," he shrugged.

Jack didn't know how to respond; didn't know what to say. He thought for a moment, trying to imagine what his son was going through, trying to think of something he could say or do that would convince John that all of this was real. His son was finally home, but how could he convince him of that?

 

* * * * *

He sat on the beach listening to the sound of the surf, watching the waves rolling in. He'd always loved the ocean, the sound of waves pounding the shore, of gulls screeching and squawking, searching for morsels of food. It had always had a calming effect on him. Even now, he could feel some of the tension start to melt away.

He heard footsteps in the sand behind him. Looking around, he tried to guess which of the people he saw were agents keeping an eye on him. There were certainly enough people around; any number of them could be watching his every move. Just like with the Ancients. The only difference this time was that no one else had been captured coming through the wormhole. He thought about the ships Colonel Nedved had shown him. He knew it was only a matter of time before the Peacekeepers showed up.

"Still think all this is an illusion?" Jack was standing behind him. He stepped around and sat down next to John, gazing out at the ocean, but keeping his son in the corner of his eye.

John shrugged. "It doesn't really matter now, does it?" he asked. "If it is, I'm going to have to figure a way out of it. If not, if this really is Earth and I really am home," he paused, "well, then I can't stay anyway."

Jack turned to look at him. "Why not?"

John looked back at his father, trying to determine whether or not he should tell him. He was pretty sure the Scarrens weren't behind all this. It didn't seem weird enough. After a moment he decided it couldn't hurt. He explained about the Ancients and how they'd placed the wormhole equations deep inside his brain. He considered telling him about Scorpius, too, but thought better of it. If this man really was his father, he might sleep a little better if he didn't know.

"Certain... elements in the universe would stop at nothing to get at what's in here," he said, tapping his head. "If I stayed, I'd just be putting the entire planet in jeopardy."

Jack was quiet for a moment. "Can these aliens really destroy a planet?" he asked.

Crichton smiled humorlessly. "Some have turned it into an art form."

"Those ships that came through the wormhole after you," Jack said, "they could destroy the Earth?"

"Maybe."

Jack stood up. "Then Colonel Nedved was right," he said. "NORAD needs to know."

John squinted up at him. "Why?" he asked. "It's not like Earth has any kind of defenses. If a command carrier comes through, it's basically over. Besides," he continued, "this could all be a figment of my imagination."

"You need to tell them everything you know about those ships," Jack was insistent. "Come on. I'll take you back." He held out a hand to help John up.

John looked back at the water. So much for rest and relaxation, he thought, taking his father's hand and standing up stiffly. He winced slightly as the bandages on his knee lightly rubbed the wounds and limped back to the truck.

Neither spoke during the ride to the base. The sentry at the gate informed them that Colonel Nedved was looking for them and that they were to go to the brig. They followed a couple of MPs to the base jail and were escorted inside.

A whirlwind of activity met them in the main area. Behind a counter, officers barked orders to soldiers who were running in all directions. Others sat at desks and fielded the many phone calls that were coming in. A sergeant saw them and motioned them around the counter. As the two men walked around, a squad of MPs entered from a side hallway; they were escorting two prisoners. The shorter prisoner appeared human and wore what looked like a military uniform. The taller one was clad entirely in skin-tight black leather. Large shoulder shields resembled an insect's carapace. The figure wore a black skullcap over the head with leather straps that crisscrossed the face, a face that resembled a corpse. The skin was blanched and pulled tightly over the cheeks, eyes sunken and dark. Thin black lips stretched over razor sharp teeth. The prisoners entered the large room and all activity slowly ceased as the soldiers got a good look at the alien.

Jack sensed his son stiffen and turned to look at him. The color had drained from John's face and he stared at the prisoners as though he'd seen a ghost. He swallowed hard and took a step toward the prisoners, who were now standing against the far wall flanked by MPs.

"John?" his father asked, wondering what he was up to.

Crichton ignored him and continued toward the two prisoners. They still hadn't noticed him. Passing an MP, Crichton reached down and, never taking his eyes off the corpse-like alien, deftly removed the MP's weapon from its holster. In seconds, he'd stepped past the soldiers guarding the prisoners. He shoved the alien back with one arm and held the gun under the alien's chin with the other.

The Peacekeeper smiled coldly at him. "John! So good to see you again." He took a sharp breath. "I was hoping we'd run into you here."

Crichton did not return the greeting. "Where's Aeryn?" he asked pointedly. Behind him the MPs had drawn their weapons and leveled them at him.

"Sir, lower the weapon and step back slowly," one of them ordered.

Crichton never took his eyes off the alien. He released the safety, then reached up with his thumb and cocked the gun. "I'm only gonna ask once more, Scorpy," he said angrily. "Where's Aeryn?" he asked again, louder this time.

The MP tried again. "Sir! Lower the weapon and step back!"

Scorpius smiled again and laughed. "John, you've already tried to kill me and failed. Twice. Even if you succeed this time," his voice turned cold, "you will never see Officer Sun again."

"John," he heard Scorpius' voice behind him, "are you sure you want to take this course of action?"

Crichton glanced over his shoulder. "Not now, Harvey!" he spoke sharply to the Scorpius clone that only he could see. The humans watching this tableau looked around at each other, puzzled.

"Now, John," the clone continued, "while my survival is no longer linked in any way to Scorpius', I must point out the futility of this endeavor. If you kill Scorpius, you likely will never see Aeryn again. The Peacekeepers will kill her in retaliation," he said.

His temper rising, Crichton again addressed the clone, "Harvey! Shut up!"

"I believe what we have is a stalemate, John," Scorpius said arrogantly and tried to step around Crichton, who shoved him back against the wall viciously.

"I don't think so, you cadaverous son of a bitch!" he said. "Now, where is she?!" he shouted.

"John!" Jack Crichton stepped forward. "Don't do this!"

Crichton seethed. "Back off, 'dad'!" he warned, pure hatred in his eyes.

The MP took another step toward him. "Sir!" he said. "Put the weapon down, now!"

By now, Crichton was breathing heavily, his face twisted with rage. Without warning, he squeezed the trigger. Scorpius' head snapped back and his body sank to the floor leaving a trail of blood and brain matter on the wall. "So much for your stalemate, Scorpy," he said, looking down at what was left of his nemesis.

Jack Crichton, along with everyone else, stood in stunned silence.

John turned to face the other prisoner. "So, Braca," he said softly, raising the gun, "you wanna tell me where Aeryn is, or do I have to blow your head off, too?"

"Crichton!" The voice came from behind and stopped him in his tracks. He slowly turned around to face its owner. Without a word, he lowered the gun in his hand and walked past the MPs who still had their weapons trained on him. He stopped in front of the woman who was flanked by MPs herself.

"Aeryn," he said softly. He took her face in one hand and held out the gun in front of one of the MPs. As soon as the soldier took it from him, he put his arms around her and held her tight. "I wasn't sure I'd ever see you again," he told her. But, he thought, is it live or is it Memorex? At the moment, he didn't care.

"Crichton," she said. "You killed Scorpius?"

He glanced back at the wall. "Looks like it," he said.

 

* * * * *

It was Jack Crichton's turn to pace. He'd been in Colonel Nedved's office for more than an hour bargaining for his son's release. He'd called in just about every marker he had and no one was willing to help. With the heightened state of alert, no one wanted to take the chance.

"Colonel," Nedved began, "understand, your son murdered someone. He shot a ma... an alien... in cold blood! On a federal installation. We can't just cut him loose."

"I understand that, Colonel," Jack said. "All I'm asking is that he get some help. He's obviously unstable. If you could transfer him to a hospital where he can get the help he needs, that's all I'm asking."

Dr. Adamson, who had been sitting across the desk from Nedved, leaned forward, "Colonel Nedved, there have been several documented cases of what has been termed 'space dementia' in astronauts who have experienced extended time in orbit. All such cases exhibited extreme violence and paranoia, just as Commander Crichton has exhibited. And those astronauts were not in space anywhere near as long as Commander Crichton. His behavior would seem to indicate that he is suffering from this type of dementia. I would suggest a full psychological and neurological workup is in order here."

Nedved sighed. He felt for Crichton. He really did. He looked at Adamson, then Crichton. "Look, I'm not guaranteeing anything, but I'll see what I can do," he said.

Jack stopped in front of the desk. "Thank you, Colonel," he said.

 

* * * * *

John Crichton sat in a cell trying to come up with a plan. Aeryn was in the cell next to his. Braca, in the cell across from John, stood staring at the human. He still couldn't believe Scorpius was dead.

Aeryn stood and walked over to the bars separating her from John. "Well," she said, "how do you propose we get out of this?"

"I'm working on it," he replied.

The door to the main building opened and DK stepped through. An MP escorted him to John's cell, opened the cell door, then closed it after DK stepped inside. The soldier walked back to the outer door, turned around and stood at attention.

"Hey," DK said.

"Hey," John replied.

DK glanced over at Aeryn. After he'd been taken into custody John had explained to his dad and sister who she was and how the Peacekeepers had captured her on the other side of the wormhole. DK nodded to her and said, "Hey."

Aeryn nodded to him.

"Uh, John," DK stared down at his friend. "Your dad told me what happened." He paused for a moment. "He also told me that you're still planning on leaving... Earth. You're going back into space?" he asked.

"Yeah," John replied. "That's the general plan, although I'm not sure how I'm gonna pull it off at this point."

"Yeah, well," DK stepped over to the cot and sat down. He lowered his voice; "Your dad's working on getting you out of here. He said he got Nedved to consider moving you to a hospital. I don't know if it's gonna happen or not, but if it does, maybe you can figure out a way to get out of it." He looked over at Braca, then at Aeryn before turning back to John. "A few of us have managed to stall the work on Farscape 1. We told the Air Force we can't do any more without you. We're working on re-installing the modifications we took apart." He paused again to make sure the MP wasn't listening. "If you do manage to escape, Farscape 1 will be ready for you, bro"

John looked at his buddy. "I thought you were pissed that I was leaving again," he said.

"Yeah, well, I am," DK told him. "But your dad told me why." He looked around the cell. "Jen's pretty upset about it, too. Oh yeah, Kathy finally made it, but they're giving her a hard time about visiting you in here. She's about to go postal on someone." He paused. "I don't think anyone's told her you're planning on taking off again." He looked back at John. "Your dad said you know how to make wormholes?" he asked incredulously.

John shrugged, "I've made a couple, but I don't have it down yet."

DK shook his head in amazement. "Damn!"

They talked for a while longer; DK detailed all the big events in the Crichton and Kroger families from the previous five years. John told him a little about the Uncharted Territories and what it was like out there. For a few brief moments, John felt almost at ease, like old times. After they'd exhausted all the big news, they sat silently for a few more moments.

Slowly, the two men stood up and the MP walked back to the cell.

"Good luck, man," DK slapped John on the shoulder.

"Thanks," John replied. "For everything."

After DK left, John and Aeryn started planning their escape. Crichton figured their best bet would be for him to jump the MP who came to get him. He could then let Aeryn out and they'd try to make their way back to the hangars. That is, if only one came to get him. He was pretty sure they were screwed if more than one came for him.

"That's your plan?" Aeryn asked dubiously.

Crichton admitted it wasn't much of a plan, but then, a lot of his plans were similarly anemic. "We'll just have to play it by ear, I guess," he said.

Aeryn looked confused. "Why would we play with our ears?" she asked.

"What?" John asked. "No," he said, shaking his head. "It's just an expression. It means 'take it as it comes', improvise."

"Why not just say that, then?"

"Aeryn, can we not do this right now?" he asked.

"Fine," she answered. "We'll 'play with our ears' then."

"Play it by ear," John corrected.

"Whatever," she smirked.

* * * * *

As bad as the escape plan was, somehow it worked. Crichton was able to overpower the guard when he came for him several hours later by hitting him in the head with the cast on his arm. After that, it was a simple matter of removing the keys and his weapon, then releasing Aeryn. They locked the guard in John's cell and started toward the door to the rest of the building.

"Wait! You're not just going leave me here?" Braca called after them.

John and Aeryn looked at each other. Sighing and shaking his head, Crichton turned around and opened the cell door. Brandishing the guard's pistol, he warned, "You better keep your trap shut 'til we're outta here."

Braca just nodded and the three fugitives carefully made their way out the back of the building. They met only one other MP on their way out and Aeryn quickly dispatched him with a pantak jab. Night had already fallen as they stepped outside. Crichton looked around to get his bearings and quickly figured out where they were in relation to the hangars. The three figures moved stealthily through the shadows toward the flight line. When they made it to the hangar where Crichton had found the Farscape module, he turned to Braca.

"Sorry, Braca," Crichton said, "my module only seats two. You're on your own. Good luck getting outta here." He and Aeryn parted company with the Peacekeeper.

They entered the hangar through the side door and walked down the now darkened hallway, then went through the door to the maintenance area. Crichton was surprised to see the area empty and the Farscape 1 module back in one piece. He noticed someone leaning into the cockpit from the other side. It was DK.

Crichton walked out toward the module. "Hey," he said.

"Hey," DK replied. "She's almost ready for you," he said. "Just a minor adjustment here." he turned the wrench in his hand a couple of times, then stood up, jumped down off the ladder he'd been standing on and walked around the module. "She's all gassed up and ready to go," he said.

He turned to Aeryn who had started toward the module. "Hey."

She nodded, "Hey."

John looked around. The hangar was empty except for the three of them. He started as he heard a door open at the front of the building, but relaxed when he recognized his father and sisters walking toward him. He took a few steps in that direction. Kathy had tears in her eyes.

"I can't believe it," she cried. "We thought you were dead."

She stepped forward and gave her brother a big hug. She sobbed faintly as they held each other close for a few moments, then John stepped back and gave Jenna a hug as well.

"What's this crap about you not sticking around?" Kathy asked, wiping her eyes.

John looked at her for a long moment, tears welling up in his eyes as he was struck by another wave of homesickness. "I can't stay," he said sadly. "I wish I could." Damn, he thought, how many times am I going to have to do this?

Jack Crichton fought to keep his emotions in check as he faced his son. "I can't even begin to understand all of this," he said. "I sure wish you'd stay, but if what you told me is true," his voice trailed off. He stepped forward and embraced his son tightly. "You take care of yourself out there," he said, his voice cracking a little.

John returned the embrace. "I will," he promised. After a moment they separated.

DK stepped up. "Take care of yourself, bro," he held out his hand. John took it and drew his friend into a hug.

"You take care of my little sister, DK," he said softly, "and take care of that baby or I'm gonna have to come back kick your ass!" The two men laughed awkwardly.

"You'd better get going before the MPs start swarming this place," Jack told him.

John and Aeryn started prepping the module for flight and climbed into the cockpit as Jack and DK opened the hangar doors. Jen and Kathy walked to the front of the hangar and the four of them watched as John taxied the module out toward the tarmac.

A few moments later a number of jeeps sped past the hangars as they watched the lights of the Farscape 1 module start down the runway. They saw the boosters fire and an earsplitting boom shook the hangar around them a few seconds later.

"That must be the hetch drive," DK mused.

Jack Crichton and his daughters just stood silently as the lights of the module disappeared into the darkness.

* * * * *

John sat on the floor of Talyn's small terrace, his back against the bulkhead, staring out at the stars. They'd met up with Talyn and slipped through the wormhole shortly after leaving the planet. He scratched his arm absentmindedly. Talyn's surgical DRDs had made short work of repairing his broken arm and the lacerations on his knee, but his arm still itched where the cast had been.

Aeryn walked in slowly. She stood a few paces in front of him. "Hey," she said softly, gazing out at the same stars.

"Hey," he replied.

After a moment of silence she said, "Hey," again.

When he still didn't say anything more, she glanced over her shoulder at him. "So, was that your home?" she asked.

Crichton shrugged, "I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not." He went silent again.

"Did you want it to be?" Aeryn asked, turning back to the stars.

He shrugged again. "I don't know. Part of me hopes it was," he said.

"Why?"

"Well," he said, "if it was, at least this time I got to say goodbye."

Aeryn nodded. "But," she said, "part of you hopes it wasn't?"

"Yeah." He paused, then continued, "If it wasn't, well then maybe there's still a chance the Peacekeepers won't ever go there."

The two of them remained on the terrace for several hundred microts, each lost in their own thoughts.

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