had spent the past months dreading what might happen if he was
recaptured by Scorpius. Never had he imagined this. After five
days, he was ready to climb the walls with boredom. He scowled
as he shoved his hands in the pockets of his pants, and began
to pace around his quarters.
had kept his promises. John had not been tortured or threatened.
Instead he was treated as a valued prisoner. Food was delivered
whenever he wanted, from a selection that seemed luxurious to
someone accustomed to the hit or miss provisions on Moya. With
nothing better to do, he caught up on his sleep, and in his waking
hours tried very hard not to think about his friends.
He saw no
one, except Scorpius. Sometimes he appeared briefly, as if merely
checking on his prisoner. Other times he stayed, and tried to
engage John in conversation. Depending on his mood, John would
allow himself to be drawn into a dialogue, but steadfastly refused
to discuss anything related to wormhole research. All the while
he kept wondering how long it would take for Scorpius's patience
to wear out, and for the gentle questions to be replaced by harsh
have caused him to panic, but it did not. In face he realized
that he was far calmer than he had any right to be. At first he
suspected Scorpius might be drugging him, administering some form
of tranquilizer in his food or injecting it through the damn dog
collar. But as the days passed, he found a simpler explanation.
The hallucinations which had tormented him for so long had finally
visions had been linked to his fear of recapture. Maybe they had
simply been the product of accumulated stresses. Whatever the
reason, all he knew was that they had ceased the moment he had
stepped on board the command carrier.
It was strange,
but he felt stronger now, more himself than he had in months.
It was not that he was healed, it was too soon for that. But he
felt as if he had taken a step back from the edge of the abyss.
Perhaps there was still time to reclaim his sanity and purpose.
He had even
begun having dreams again. Last night he had dreamed that he was
on his first shuttle mission, remembering the excitement and the
overwhelming need to prove that he had earned the assignment on
his own merits, not simply because he was Jack Crichton's son.
When the shuttle returned, his father had been standing with the
reception committee on the pad. Mindful of the watching reporters,
all he had said was "Good job, son," but the look in
his eyes had meant more to John than any IASA mission summary
In his dream
he had seen his father, and reached for him, only to wake up and
remember where he was. It did not take a genius to understand
why his subconscious had dredged up this memory. There would be
no return for John, no reunion with his father and his friends,
unless John managed to unlock the secret of the equations hidden
within his brain.
he hadn't tried. But life onboard Moya had given him little time
to spend on research. Instead most days were filled with the simple
necessities of survival, and of evading their enemies. Even when
he had free time, Moya was hardly an ideal research base. Her
star charts were woefully inadequate, and full of errors. Her
information banks had been designed by Peacekeepers. They contained
limited technical knowledge, and virtually no science data. Indeed
even the theoretical principles behind the Leviathan's ability
to starburst seemed to have been considered classified military
information, and thus omitted. It had taken him months and the
help of Pilot, to figure out the basics of biomechanoid technology,
and to learn which pieces could be adapted to work with his module.
On his own
he might never find the answers he sought. John paused as his
steps brought him over to the technical station, the Peacekeeper
equivalent of a computer and information retrieval unit. A part
of him wanted to investigate the unit, to find out what was stored
within. Scorpius had been researching wormholes for years, and
would have access to the best technical information and theoretical
knowledge that the Peacekeepers owned. If he permitted John to
view only a fraction of that knowledge, it would still be more
information than he could hope to find anywhere else. It was a
as he yearned to explore, he held back, knowing that this was
exactly what Scorpius wanted. Scorpius was counting on John's
natural curiosity, and his hunger to learn more about wormholes.
He would not give anything away for free. Any information he let
John have was given with the expectation that he would be able
to reclaim full value later, by taking from John whatever he could
discover about wormhole technology.
It was a
precarious position. Sooner or later, John would have to make
a choice. He could choose to cooperate, to play along for now,
taking what information he could, and hoping that he could find
a way to escape before he gave Scorpius the knowledge that would
make the Peacekeepers an unstoppable force. Or he could wait until
Scorpius decided to change the rules of the game, and found a
way to coerce him.
to look at the data his only way to resist? Or was John throwing
away his one chance to get the information he needed to go home?
Which choice was the right one? If only he could talk to someone
he trusted. Aeryn. D'Argo. Dad. Someone who could help him negotiate
this minefield, and to steer clear of Scorpius's traps.
any way to turn the tables on Scorpius? If John pretended to cooperate,
was it possible that Scorpius would lower his guard and provide
the opportunity that John needed to escape?
As long as
he stayed in these quarters, there was no chance of escape. John
had found that out for himself, on the second day. He had opened
the door, and had taken barely one step into the corridor, before
he felt a cold jab in his neck. He remembered the startled face
of the Peacekeeper sentry, and the sensation of falling, and then
nothing else until he woke up, to find himself lying in bed, back
in his quarters.
to get out of these quarters. Five days of searching had convinced
him that there was nothing here that he could use as a weapon,
or a means of escape. Outside these walls was the resources of
a command carrier. It was too much to hope for that he would have
allies, but there would be weapons, ships, and perhaps a chance
be a dangerous game. He would have to convince Scorpius he was
cooperating, and to do that he would have to give him at least
some knowledge, for Scorpius was too intelligent to be deceived
by lies or the techno-babble that Crichton had used on others.
It would be a delicate balance, enough information to be convincing,
but not enough to ensure that Scorpius could unravel the secrets
of wormhole technology. And the game could only be played for
so long. Sooner or later, he would have to find a way off the
ship, or he would have to end his own life, rather than yield
what he knew to his enemy.
can do this, John," he said. He had to. There were no other
down in the chair in front of the technical station. His passed
his right hand over the clear surface, and a glowing list of symbols
appeared. The first entry caught his eye. Star charts. He pressed
the symbol and a three dimensional holographic map sprang to life.
smiled. Crichton had taken the bait, as he had expected. He had
known that the human would be unable to resist the lure of the
knowledge that he had long sought. It had taken five days for
Crichton to give in to his curiosity, but once he had accessed
the technical station, he had proven insatiable. He had been searching
the star charts for over four arns now, matching the information
within to his memories of his travels through the Uncharted Territories.
Each command, every notation he entered was echoed on a station
on Scorpius's command deck, and recorded for later analysis.
search widened, until he was viewing models of this galaxy, and
of those nearby. Crichton appeared to be searching for a particular
type of galaxy, for he discarded one image after another. He lingered
for a few moments on the sketchy image of a flattened spiral galaxy,
and then continued his search. But the momentary pause was a clue,
and when he twice came back to that image, Scorpius knew that
it had special significance to the human. In all probability this
was his home galaxy.
station, Scorpius called up the information on that galaxy. There
was scant information, merely references taken from a race that
had inherited data from the beings known as the Ancients. Far
too distant for the Peacekeepers, or any of their allies or enemies
to explore, the galaxy had been simply a scientific curiosity.
really was from that distant part of the universe, it meant that
the wormhole had carried him farther than even Scorpius had believed
possible. It was a testament to the power of wormholes, and a
confirmation that Scorpius had been right to place such a high
value on his captive scientist.
It was time
to reward Crichton, and to give him a new reason for cooperation.
the familiar click, and looked up from the console as the door
opened, and Scorpius appeared.
was smiling. No doubt his watchers had informed him the moment
John had become accessing the data within the technical station.
He must be pleased that John was finally beginning to cooperate.
tried to disguise the true goal of his queries, but he did not
know how successful he had been. He had not been able to resist
going back to look at that spiral galaxy a second and then a third
time, wondering if it was indeed the Milky Way.
came nearer, John felt himself tense, and the familiar undercurrent
of fear that the sight of Scorpius always brought with it. No
matter how gentle his treatment had been in these last days, a
part of him still remembered the horrors of the Gammak base, and
that Scorpius had been the author of that suffering.
an item you lost," Scorpius said. "Something you may
find of value."
pulled a small object out of his belt pouch and tossed it to him.
up and caught it automatically. Lowering his hand, he opened his
fist, and saw a microcassette tape.
One of his
microcassette tapes, with the IASA logo and his own handwriting
on the label.
did you get this?" His chest felt tight. All of his tapes
were on Moya. Had Scorpius gone back on his word? Had Moya and
his friends been captured after all?
tape has the experimental data from the Dam-Ba-Da depot. Once
I knew it was there, I took steps to retrieve it."
the tape over in his hands. He had never thought to see this data
again. Dam-Ba-Da had the unique distinction of having a predictable
solar flare cycle. During the solar flares, John had used the
Farscape module to try and recreate the conditions that had led
to the wormhole formation on Earth. He had come close. Very close,
but the proto-wormhole was unstable, and John had been forced
to land on the planet and seek repairs for the Farscape module.
In return for the repairs he had been forced to bargain away the
information he had gained during his test.
It was another
reminder that Scorpius knew all too much about him, and about
his experiences. John did not remember Scorpius questioning him
about his time at the Dam-Ba-Da depot, but clearly this must have
been part of the memories captured by the Aurora Chair. Indeed
much of his sessions in the chair were hazy, simply blurred impressions
of pain, confusion, and the desperate struggle to keep his mind
focused on not betraying his friends.
already done my own analysis on that data, and placed the results
within the technical station. I would be interested to know if
you concur with my conclusions," Scorpius added.
readings were valuable. In less than four cycles the solar flare
cycle would repeat itself, and the mechanic Furlow would have
the opportunity to use the data contained on the tape to try and
create her own wormhole. She had not struck John as the type of
person who would bargain away such a valuable asset.
happened to Furlow?" John asked.
is no concern of yours."
killed her, right?" It was the obvious answer, but he wanted
to force Scorpius to admit it.
was a security risk. Although she recognized the value of the
data you had collected, she lacked the ability to provide new
insights into the research. Once it was determined she had no
further use, she was terminated as a security risk."
words struck a chill within him. It was another reminder that
Scorpius could be utterly ruthless in pursuing his goals. Indeed
John himself was kept alive only because it served Scorpius's
plans. Like Furlow, the moment Scorpius had no further use for
him, John would be killed.
been killed because she had tried to help him. Furlow had been
killed simply because she had known him, and had bargained for
the solar flare data. How many other deaths was he responsible
for, either directly or indirectly?
his head. Death had followed him since the moment of his arrival.
True Tauvo Crais's death had been an accident. But it had not
taken long before John had learned what it was to kill, to deliberately
take another intelligent being's life. At times he had done so
almost casually, without thought. It was no wonder that these
days when he looked inside himself, he did not recognize the man
he had become.
you answer a question for me?" he asked, slowly raising his
many Peacekeepers did I kill when I destroyed the Gammak base?"
face was carefully bland, and John knew his question had surprised
Hundreds?" John asked.
anticipated that you might find a way to attack the base, and
so I ordered an evacuation," Scorpius said slowly. "Over
half the base's complement escaped, and brought with them vital
memory cores. Still your attack did great damage. Months of valuable
research data was lost, along with several hundred of the staff."
personnel were mentioned almost as an afterthought. It was clear
that Scorpius's concerns were for the missing data.
his eyes, and swallowed hard. Several hundred. That made him a
mass murderer. There was no comfort in knowing that others had
helped create the plan, and to carry it out. In the end, it had
been John's choice to set off the chain reaction explosion. The
responsibility for what happened was his, and he could not escape
think. I hated the place, and what had been done to me. I needed
to strike back, and to destroy it," he said, wondering why
he felt compelled to explain. "It wasn't till later...."
trailed off. It wasn't until much later that the full horror of
what he had done sank home. Perhaps he could have rationalized
killing Scorpius, and Niem, and the guards who had mistreated
him and Stark. But there had been others on the base. People not
so different from Gilina Renaez and Aeryn Sun. Good people, trapped
by the Peacekeeper culture and a system that required them to
be so much less than they could be. People who did not deserve
to die at his hands.
must have been visible on his face.
these were not your friends. They were your enemies. It was an
John said sharply, opening his eyes and shaking his head. "I
don't want to hear it. It is over. Done with. Nothing you say
can make what I did right."
had been worthy, attacking the base to provide a diversion, which
would allow Moya and his friends to escape. And yet in the name
of that goal he had committed murder on a grand scale, an act
that would have once been unthinkable. How much had he changed
in these two cycles? How long could he keep telling himself that
the end justified the means?
was he now, truly, from Scorpius? Would there come a time when
he, too, would see murder as simply a logical solution to a difficult
problem? Were there still acts that he would not commit? Was there
anything he would not do, in order to return home?
He had left
Earth as a scientist. An explorer. Now he feared he would return
as a cold-blooded killer.