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Part Four

 

by Ann Harrington (aka Annigmatic)

 

Copyright Notice: Farscape is owned by The Jim Henson company, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Network Australia and the Sci-Fi Channel. They own all rights to characters mentioned within this story. I have merely borrowed these characters to play with, and promise to return them in good working order.

Spoilers: All of Season 2, up through "A Clockwork Nebari"

Summary: Scorpius makes John an offer he can't refuse

Read Part I of this story

Read Part II of this story

Read Part III of this story

 

Part IV

It had been a mistake to tell Crichton about the destruction of the Gammak base. Scorpius should have refused to answer the question, or simply revealed that there had been an evacuation. But he had misread the human, thinking that Crichton's question was an attempt to confirm that his efforts had been successful. So he had given Crichton the truth, only to realize his mistake from the human's reaction.

He had known Crichton grieved over the deaths of his friends. He had not realized that Crichton would also grieve over the deaths of those who had been his enemies.

Crichton's mood had turned dark, and for the rest of that day he had not spoken a single word. Nor had he even glanced at the test results from Dam-Ba-Da. Instead he had retreated back into the depression that had gripped him when he first came aboard.

The next day Crichton's mental condition was no better. When he saw Scorpius he was all too willing to talk, a steady stream of verbal insults and threats meant to provoke Scorpius into taking action against him. Consciously or not, Crichton was courting his own destruction.

The human was fortunate that Scorpius was too intelligent to let himself be provoked. Instead he relied on his patience, and increased the dosage of the tranquilizers.

It was tempting to think of reactivating the neuro-chip, to get a glimpse inside Crichton's mind. And to use the chip to erase those memories which were proving harmful. But Scorpius could not take that risk. The neuro-chip had already done enough damage. And while the chip had been successful at erasing short term memory, it was far more difficult to erase long term memories that had already been assimilated. Tampering with that part of Crichton's mind might inadvertently destroy the wormhole knowledge that the aliens had implanted.

For several days the situation continued as a stalemate, until Crichton himself broke the impasse by sending a message that he wanted to speak with Scorpius.

As he made his way to the human's quarters, he wondered at the meaning of the summons. Was this simply Crichton's latest attempt to provoke him?.

Crichton had clearly been expecting him, for he sat facing the door, and he rose to his feet as Scorpius entered the room.

"You've gotta stop this," Crichton said.

"Stop what?"

Crichton raised his hand and rubbed his skull vigorously. "This. The drugs or whatever you're doing to me. Makes my brain feel all.... fuzzy."

It was true that the tranquilizers tended to depress neural functions. Fuzzy was hardly a scientific term, but accurate enough.

"John, the drugs are meant to help you. You yourself said that your mind was confused and unstable," Scorpius said.

Crichton nodded. "I know. But it's not going to get better. Not like this. Not when I can't think straight."

He hesitated. He had planned to cut back on the tranquilizers gradually, as Crichton's mental condition stabilized. But perhaps there was a point to Crichton's argument. His mind might be able to heal itself, given time.

"Do this, and I'll look at the damn test data for you," Crichton offered.

"And why would you do that?" Why now, after carefully avoiding the data for the past weeken? What had inspired this offer of cooperation?

"You've already seen it. I won't be telling you anything new," Crichton said. "I was the one who got it. I might as well see it for myself."

A logical enough answer, and proof that however fuzzy he claimed his thoughts were, Crichton was still capable of reasoning.

"Very well. We will try things your way. For now," Scorpius said. If Crichton upheld his end of the bargain, then he would uphold his.

"Thanks," Crichton said, then bit his lip as if he wished he could take back what he had said.

 

Two days later, Crichton surprised him by announcing that he had finished his analysis of the data from the Dam-Ba-Da experiment. He was not surprised by the speed, after all the analysis had not been particularly complex. But he had expected that the human would try to delay as long as possible before fulfilling his end of their bargain.

Instead Crichton appeared eager, almost anxious to talk.

"Tell me something first," Crichton said. "Why wormholes? Why not try something you already have, like duplicating the starburst drive?"

"John, if this is an attempt to delay---"

"There's no rush. We both know the analysis you put in that tech station was a bucket of dren. So there's no reason not to answer my question."

Scorpius took a seat opposite Crichton, noticing with interest that despite his closeness, for once Crichton showed no sign of the fear that he had shown before in his presence. Even the human's thought patterns were clearer than they had been, more focused. It was as if he had found a way to anchor himself.

And perhaps he had.

"It takes living energy to generate a starburst field, something the race known as the Builders must have known when they designed the biomechanoid Leviathans," Scorpius explained.

"Weird. So you took their word for that? No attempts to figure out your own starburst drive?"

Since the discovery of the Leviathans, Peacekeeper scientists had searched for a way to replicate the starburst drive artificially, so far with no success. The research was at a dead end.

"There have been attempts to integrate the starburst capabilities into a Peacekeeper vessel, something you yourself have seen."

"Talyn. Right. Well that's one experiment with a mind of his own," Crichton said. "Still, why wormholes? Have you seen them before? Other visitors like me popping up all over Peacekeeper space?"

"No, you are the only wormhole traveler that we have encountered. But we have known of the possibility for some time. The fragmented data that we have from the Ancients tells us that they used wormhole technology, although little is known about how they created them."

It had taken Scorpius nearly five cycles of research to create a miniature proto-wormhole in the Gammak base laboratory. Crichton had managed to create wormholes twice within a mere cycle. The first had been by accident, but the proto-wormhole at Dam-Ba-Da had been a deliberate creation. And all done without any of the resources which Scorpius had at his disposal, and without the knowledge that the Ancients would later implant in his mind.

"So all your scientists are off chasing something they think exists, but they don't know how to get there. Ain't it a bitch when that happens? It's kind of like Fermat's enigma."

"Fermat's what?"

"Fermat's enigma. It's a famous logic problem, back home." Crichton leaned forward, and began gesturing with his hands. "There was this mathematician named Fermat. He wrote that he had found an elegant proof to a theorem that no one had been able to prove before. Only he didn't have enough paper to record it. The guy's been dead over three hundred years, and still mathematicians are knocking themselves out, trying to find the proof that Fermat supposedly had. One bright guy managed to prove the theorem, but his answer was extremely complicated and relied on esoteric set theories. It couldn't be the same proof that Fermat found, so the rest of them keep on trying."

Crichton leaned back and smiled, his eyes focused on a distant memory. "Even DK got sucked into that for a while, until I convinced him to come back to the fold and work on the Farscape thesis."

"You never felt tempted to solve this yourself?"

"Why? The theorem was Fermat's. I had my own dreams, and my own theories to prove."

Scorpius tried to imagine this world of Crichton's, a place where scientists pursued research simply because it intrigued them. It was a concept unthinkable in the Peacekeepers' domains, where technology was valued solely for its military applications. Perhaps this was the key to Crichton's unique approach. A system that valued discovery for its own sake would produce a very different type of scientist.

"And the data from Dam-Ba-Da?" he prompted.

"You'll have to do better than that if you want to test me," Crichton replied. "The analysis was dren. A different entry vector or faster approach would have changed nothing. The readings confirmed what I'd suspected, that the proto-wormhole was inherently unstable. It broke up before it was truly formed."

That agreed with his own conclusions. Like the miniature wormholes he had created in his lab, the proto-wormhole on Dam-Ba-Da had been an incomplete formation. A sign that the research was on the right track, but that they still lacked some crucial understanding of the phenomenon.

"And the solution to making it stable?"

"Don't know yet," Crichton said. "But give me time, and I'll figure it out."

It was not quite a promise.

 

On Moya the celebration had been going on for several arns when Pa'u Zhaan rose from her seat. "I will leave you now," she said.

D'Argo nodded, sparing her merely a glance before returning his attention to Jothee, his newly rediscovered son. At the far end of the table, Rygel and Chiana paid her no heed as they continued an elaborate drinking game.

Aeryn had left some time before, claiming that there was maintenance that needed to be done on Moya. It had been an obvious lie, but with uncommon tact the others had pretended to accept her excuse at face value.

Like Aeryn, Zhaan's own feelings were mixed, her joy at Jothee's rescue tempered by regrets over the two friends who should have been here to share in the celebration. Stark, who had given his life to save them, and whose information had led D'Argo to his son. And Crichton, whose mysterious defection still puzzled and haunted the crew.

As time had passed, they had come to accept the fact that Crichton was no longer with them. It had been awkward the first time someone had impatiently commed Crichton to fix a technical problem, only to remember that he was gone. Quietly the watch schedule was rearranged to fill the gaps caused by his absence, and she no longer looked at his empty place in the common room wondering what was delaying him.

Rygel had made a halfhearted attempt to take control of Crichton's possessions, but he quickly backed down when confronted by D'Argo.

It would be easier for the crew to accept, if they knew something of Crichton's fate. Was he still alive, a prisoner, being tortured by Scorpius? Or had he already been killed, his spirit set free from this plane?

Aeryn still carried deep anger, and refused to accept what had happened. She needed a reason, someone or something to blame. She had gone through Crichton's possessions, looking for any clues to his behavior. She had even listened to all of the sound recordings he had made in his time on Moya, though she had shared the contents of only the final tape with Zhaan.

That tape had been chilling. Crichton had begun by confiding his concern over his sanity, and then drifted into a strange one-sided argument, apparently with something he thought was Scorpius. Irritably he had ordered Scorpius to leave him alone, to get out of his head. There had been another pause, and then the phrase "I must remember to tell Zhaan..."

His voice had trailed off, leaving them with no idea as to what he had meant to tell her. The recording was silent for several hundred microts, and then Crichton was heard remarking "Wonder why this is on?" and then a click that signified he had turned off the device.

The tape was evidence of Crichton's confusion, and the strange visions he had mentioned to Aeryn. But it provided no explanations, just more questions. The real wonder was that he had been able to keep up the pretense of normalcy for so long.

Zhaan entered her quarters, and then pressed the wall plate that shut the door behind her, signifying her desire for privacy. From a small cabinet she took out her meditation mat and incense sticks. Laying the mat on the floor, she slipped off her robe and then lowered herself gracefully to sit cross-legged on the mat.

She lit the incense sticks, and began the ritual hand gestures as she invoked the powers of the Goddess. Holding her palms upward to signify her openness to spiritual guidance, she cleared her mind of everyday concerns, and began the meditation chant.

Deeper she sank into the trance, until she reached the plane where the physical realm and the spiritual realm coexisted in harmony. As she opened her mind for guidance, she saw a familiar being.

"Stark," she whispered.

It was Stark, not as he had appeared in the physical realm, but rather the glowing being of light and compassion that she had seen when she linked with him in Unity. A spirit memory, brought on by her earlier musings.

"Pa'u Zhaan. It is good to touch your spirit again," Stark said. His spirit voice was even stronger than it had been before, as if the darkness which had once been part of him had been banished forever.

"I have thought of you often," Zhaan said.

"And I of you. I would have come to you sooner, but it took me time to make the transition from my corporeal state to the energy form that I now inhabit."

"Energy form?"

"Yes, the Plokavians were only able to destroy my body. As I had hoped, my spirit form remained intact."

Joy lightened her heart as she realized that this was indeed Stark, and not merely an echo of his spirit drawn from her memories. "I can not tell you how happy this news makes me. For a long time I have grieved, thinking you lost forever."

"I know. That is one of the reasons why I came to you," Stark replied.

"And the other reason?"

"Crichton."

Crichton and Stark had shared a bond born of their mutual imprisonment on the Gammak base. Stark had done his best to try and heal Crichton after his experiences, but he had confided to her that he was not certain that he had succeeded. They had agreed that they could do nothing else unless Crichton asked for their help. At the time it had seemed a wise decision. Only now, in hindsight, could she see how wrong they had been.

"Crichton is not here. Several weekens ago he left Moya and surrendered himself to Scorpius," Zhaan explained.

A whisper of sorrow drifted like gray mist across the spirit realm.

"That I know as well," Stark said. "I have seen him, although unlike you he can not sense my presence."

"Crichton is alive? Is he unharmed?"

"Physically he is unharmed, although even now Scorpius molds him to do his bidding. I watched and observed, and discovered that Crichton has unwittingly been under Scorpius's control since the time of his imprisonment. There is a device implanted deep within his mind, that allowed Scorpius to control his thoughts and actions."

"Goddess defend," Zhaan whispered. Such a thing was an abomination.

"An abomination indeed," Stark said, sharing her thoughts.

"Can you help him?"

"I will wait, and see. There is a possibility. If the time comes, I may need you to help me, at once and without question. Can you do that?"

"Of course," Zhaan said. "Just ask and it will be done."

"You are gracious and kind," Stark said. His spirit image raised his hands until the palms were extended towards hers. She reached out with her own hands, and pressed her palms against his, feeling the joyous glow of contentment that came from sharing unity with a kindred soul. Then the image faded, and he was gone.

As Zhaan returned to the present, she was faced with a new dilemma. Should she share what she had learned with the others? She could not reveal the truth of what had happened to Crichton unless she revealed her source. And that would mean also telling them that Crichton was still alive, and still very much in danger.

What kindness would there be in sharing such knowledge with those who already grieved for him? Instead she would keep her own counsel, until she knew if there was indeed anything that she or the rest of Moya's crew could do to help their lost shipmate.

####

Part V of this story>>

 

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