Future or Something Like It
were flying, the vastness of space stretched out before them,
empty and lonely. John was reminded of staring off into the ocean,
the overwhelming feeling of something greater than he was, than
any dream or theory or philosophy. It had been an overpowering
feeling that made him feel small and helpless. It was the way
he felt right now. He hated it.
kept his distance as much as he could within the tight confines
of the Prowler, his hands resting at his side as he tried to balance
himself in such a way that he wouldn't touch her. Even so, he
could sense Aeryn's tightly coiled body so close to his as she
stared straight ahead, purposeful, her hands tight on the prowler's
controls. He couldn't see her face, of course, but he knew what
he'd find there if he could-that mask that managed so many emotions.
Love, sadness...but most of all now, determination. Aeryn had
found an objective, a mission and he had no choice but to follow
it even if it led to both their deaths.
he said softly. "Do you even know where we're going?"
you trying to change my mind?" she said without turning to
no." He raised his hand, rested it briefly on her shoulder
and then sat back a little as she twisted slightly under his touch.
This time, he wouldn't take it personally. It had nothing to do
had met her in the maintenance bay, much the way he had so many
months ago when she had returned from Talyn. The alert had gone
through the ship's comms-Aeryn's Prowler had docked in their open
landing bay. She had climbed down the Prowler's steps and had
turned just in time to see him rounding the corner. Her eyes had
sought him out and found him this time. She threw herself into
his arms in relief. He felt like he had found her from the dead
again and her grip had been enough to almost knock him to the
he'd whispered, running his hands through her hair.
Crichton." Her lips formed his name even as she'd pressed
them against the sensitive skin of his neck. "John."
did you-" But she'd pulled away and looked at him. He stared
back, his eyes naturally staring at her belly as he looked at
nothing. Nothing had changed since he'd last seen her.
he roared. Aeryn looked at him, frowning.
she began. "Noranti?"
old woman," he explained. "Wrinkles, Granny... Take
shook her head-it wasn't important-and reached out her hand, letting
her palm rest against his cheek. "I'm fortunate to be here,"
she said quietly. "John..."
He felt himself leaning into her hand. He took it in his own and
kissed her palm. "I've looked and looked and...here you are...I
don't get it." He just couldn't drop it, just be glad in
the knowledge that she was safe.
let me go." She dropped her hand and turned away. "I
don't know why."
John could contemplate it further, his shipmates were bounding
in behind him-D'Argo, Chiana skidding in after him. Rygel hovered
nearby and looked like he'd seen a ghost.
D'Argo hugged her much the way he'd bear-hugged John at their
reunion on Arnessk. He swung her around and John saw Aeryn's boots
lift off the floor as D'Argo almost danced with her in joy.
A smile twitched at the corner of her mouth. "You're still
alive. That's good to see."
Chiana said from behind D'Argo. "So are you." She looked
at John and he shrugged, as unsure of how this all came to be
as she was.
Aeryn said in return. She extended a hand in greeting-the good
old earthling way, John thought. Chiana took her hand hesitantly
and then Aeryn pulled her in and hugged her.
can see my friends are as resourceful as ever in managing to stay
alive," she began. "Dominar."
Sun." Rygel slid towards her in his throne sled. "I
didn't think we'd see you again.
of us did," D'Argo said. "Where have you been?"
there's the $64,000 question," John said. "And what
the hell happened while you were gone?"
was a crazy mission. No one knew that better than John Crichton.
So they'd blown up a Gammak Base, a shadow depository and a Command
Carrier. No one took that much bad karma and turned it into something
good. Their luck would run out soon and he had a feeling that
the time for that had come.
there was no way of deterring Aeryn and he couldn't blame her.
It was her child out there...and his, whether he had anything
to do with its actual making or not. But even more than it being
his flesh and blood, it was Aeryn's and she would not be parted
from it. Especially not like this.
you really think this is the way to go?" he began again as
the Prowler continued forward.
know where the Command Carrier is," she said.
not what I meant," he began.
turned to the control panel. "I know what you meant. Is there
any other way? Have you thought of a different plan?"
mean one that doesn't involve getting us killed? No," he
sure the coordinates were set before I left. Fate." Her voice
was impassive. She could have just as easily been discussing the
weather or what they were going to eat.
He shook his head, unsure.
She turned to him, biting her lip, her eyes hard. "They were
set for me, it appears. Someone knew I'd come back."
he snorted. "Does that someone wear black leather and have
a really nasty set of choppers?"
Yes, I'm sure."
reached out to Aeryn, touching her hair and she didn't pull away
this time. They'd been flying for more than a day and she had
gradually allowed herself to warm to him, her initial reaction
to Noranti's visions finally wearing away.
ran his fingers lightly over her hair, letting each strand thread
through his fingertips. Her hair was still long but she had given
up on the PK braid and it hung past her shoulders, heavy and black
and straighter than he remembered. So much time had gone by since
he'd last touched her, yet he somehow felt like they'd never separated.
The connection was still there; he felt it in the pit of his stomach
and he knew she felt it too.
a trap, you know," John began. He sat back a little, trying
to ignore the finality in his tone.
nodded and leaned her head back a little. "That's why you
shouldn't have come. Your value is much greater than mine."
laughed shortly. "Yeah, what's five million between friends?
I think Rygel's pissed that I'm finally worth more than he is.
And alive, no less."
didn't take a bounty to know that, John." She changed the
control on the prowler so that they were floating, and turned
to face him. "I was right about Fate...bringing us back together..."
right before it kicks us in the teeth." He brushed her hair
away from her eyes and ran his thumb over her lips. "You
understand the difference..." She leaned forward, eyes closed
and he felt her arms go around his neck awkwardly in the cramped
quarters of the prowler. Her lips landed squarely on his as she
kissed him hard. Like all those old end of the world movies...It
was the kiss of someone who knew she was going to die.
said 'he', Aeryn." John persisted, following Aeryn to the
center chamber while the others lagged behind. "Who is 'he'?"
I was on his carrier..." She stopped and looked at him. He
could see the confusion that clouded her eyes and then she shook
Chiana popped up beside John. "Did you say that fekkik let
you go? What...that's dren. It's a trap, Aeryn. He probably followed
you here and you led him right to us!"
were at the center chamber now. Chiana blocked the entry and pushed
Aeryn away, both hands squarely on Aeryn's chest. Aeryn lost her
balance and shuffled backwards, regaining her footing before she
could fall. Whatever momentary good will had existed between the
two had just gotten shot to hell. Aeryn raised her fist in retaliation
but John pulled her back as D'Argo reached for Chiana.
John said wearily. "Back off."
This is the best bait of all. Send a Peacekeeper to do a Peacekeeper's
job. She left you, Crichton, and now you're thinking with your-"
D'Argo put his hand over her mouth and she promptly bit down on
he shouted. "Chiana, wait."
you all wait." She twisted away from D'Argo's grip and turned
to face them. "Yeah, this is nice and cozy. Here we are,
all together. We left Jool behind on some planet the Peacekeepers
already know about. Well, that was easy. We pick up some redheaded
tralk we don't even know anything about and now you all welcome
Aeryn back with open arms? Are you guys tinked? For all we know,
they've swapped that baby with a peacekeeper beacon."
D'Argo grabbed her shoulders. "What are you talking about?"
on, D'Argo. The baby, the baby, the baby. I...I had a vision-"
vision!?!" John said. "You don't have visions, Pip.
You said so yourself-"
well it was a frelling leftover, all right? And then Wrinkles
here showed me..." She looked at Noranti. "Hey, Wrinkles,
help me out here."
all turned on the old woman who stood at the pots and pans, stirring
something that, to John, didn't look the least bit appetizing.
"Granny, you got some 'splainin' to do," he said. He
went to her and grabbed her elbow but she remained unperturbed.
Aeryn repeated heavily. "What the frell are you talking about?"
She grabbed Chiana by the arm and pulled her towards her. "Chiana?"
She pulled her pulse pistol from the holster and held it to Chiana's
hissed at her. "Get your frelling Peacekeeper hands off me.
You can't hurt me any more than the rest of them could."
Chiana cackled and pushed away. The pulse pistol clattered to
the floor. Aeryn stared at it dumbly, the confusion back in her
eyes. Her expression made John shiver like an icy hand had just
grabbed him by the neck.
John said softly. "What the hell did you do, you lying sack
the right amount, really," Noranti explained. She shook free
of him. "Chiana had a gift. You knew that, John Crichton."
She turned to D'Argo. "And you?" She turned to Rygel,
pointing a gnarled finger at him. "And you, Dominar?"
point at me, bitch," Rygel said. "I have no idea what
this is all about but I'm afraid Chiana has a point. About a trap.
I don't know anything about a baby."
just stop it, all of you," John said. "Aeryn is not
leaving here. We are in this thing together and we're sticking
it out together."
turned to him and laughed. "The only thing sticking out here,
Crichton, is your-"
have it!" Noranti interrupted Chiana and approached Aeryn
then stood right up against her chest. Aeryn stared down at her.
John could see the anger raging across Aeryn's face but the eyes
still looked out of touch, as if Aeryn was only pretending to
away from me, old woman," she said.
the hezmana's going on here," D'Argo broke in, frustrated.
"Will someone please explain this to me."
pretty simple, D'Argo. Aeryn got herself tekked and now we're
all going to die," Chiana said. "That clear enough for
the frell are you all talking about?" Aeryn said finally.
She grabbed Noranti by the edges of the old woman's tattered robe.
"You'd better tell me what this is all about."
John said softly. "Let her go. Didn't you know? You're pregnant."
He looked at her body again. If anything, she looked even thinner
and more angular than when she'd left. "At least, you were,"
nodded emphatically. "Aeryn Sun, you know what he says is
true. And the truth is easily revealed." She reached into
her pocket before John could stop her and blew white powder into
Aeryn's face. The change in Aeryn was instantaneous; her body
sagged and her face went slack. She stumbled blindly into a chair
and crashed down on it, her arms flinging away from her body like
she was trying to push someone away. John looked at the others-they
all stared at Aeryn, her eyes rolling back in her head, a dream-like
expression over her face and then the expression changed just
as suddenly to fear and then pain.
she shouted. Her eyes were wide open but weren't fixed on anyone
in the room. The tenor of her voice was something John had never
heard before, higher, frightened, almost pleading. Her fingers
clenched into her palm and then she started to wail, a hopeless,
D'Argo breathed and nodded his head towards Aeryn's hands. Her
palms were bleeding as her nails dug in hard.
stop," John said. "Noranti, cut the crap. She doesn't
need to see this, whatever it is-" He moved towards Aeryn.
John Crichton." Noranti stepped between him and Aeryn. "She
must see. She must know."
had started in the chair, the same chair in which Aeryn had left
Crais so that he could see his twisted life unfold before his
eyes. And now hers had done the same. Braca had stood just behind
Scorpius, appearing to keep watch as Scorpius searched for John
in Aeryn's memories. She saw her military existence, saw herself
marching in formation as a child, handling rifles and pulse pistols.
Xhalax staring down at her-"you were conceived in love"-the
most memorable experience of her childhood if for no other reason
than it was the only deviation from Peacekeeper life that had
ever happened to her. Until John Crichton.
known nothing of John's whereabouts when she'd been captured but
she had still resisted revealing anything about him. She had thrown
up a neural block, concentrating on her Peacekeeper training,
on the minutiae of flying a Prowler, of cleaning a pulse pistol,
anything to distract her from the chair. Explosions zoomed before
her eyes, kills in battle, the shadow depository. Making love
to John on Talyn. Xhalax falling to her death. John, dying in
her arms. Velorek, the absurd calm in his eyes while she had stood
there, smothering tears of anguish over her betrayal, juxtaposing
with John's shattered look when she had left him on Moya. All
of it was out of sequence with what came before. Each vision brought
its pain with it and the Aurora Chair had ripped all of it from
her memory, overpowering her will, and she had dug her fingernails
into her hand to stop herself from screaming. She had passed out
just after hearing someone say, "Stop."
she had awakened, she was in a medical unit, alone. And then Scorpius
had come into the room. She had no idea of how much time had passed.
Sun, I set you free. There is a Prowler waiting for you. An officer
will escort you."
remembered standing on shaky legs, too weak and strung out to
respond to him. He had caught her right as she'd fallen on one
knee and then another, faceless Peacekeeper had escorted her through
the hidden passageways of the Carrier to the Prowler. From there
she'd managed to find Moya. And now, that thing that she had never
known had revealed itself.
sat up straight and opened her eyes, looking at each of them.
Her nose was bleeding; she wiped the blood across the back of
her hand and then looked from it to her shipmates-her friends.
D'Argo and Chiana both gaped at her in disbelief. Rygel shook
his head in pity. Finally she found John. He reached out his hand
but she pushed it away slowly, suddenly not wanting to be touched.
Scorpius had taken it from her while she'd slept, too drugged
to fight him off.
forced herself to her feet and grabbed at Noranti. "What
did you do to me?" She shook her till the old woman's teeth
John and D'Argo both pulled her away from Noranti.
She pushed them off. The old woman's visions had put her right
back in the chair. The metallic taste of blood built up in the
back of her throat and she could feel the pounding in her head
and weakness in her legs but she wouldn't succumb to it. She turned
to John and wiped at her lips with the back of her other hand.
"Do you believe this dren?"
nuts but she's been right more than she's been wrong," he
said. It wasn't the answer she wanted.
shrugged helplessly. "She knew about a lot of things on that
planet-Arnessk. It's where we left Jool."
know it is true, Aeryn," Noranti began. "You
remember it all, don't you. Or do you refuse to see?"
herself against the table. "Yes," she said finally.
"I remember. Now."
John began. "Can you tell us..."
looked at each of them again-even Chiana seemed subdued, hanging
back in the corner and waiting, her arms hanging loosely from
her body. D'Argo, arms crossed over his chest, his expression
soft. And John...when she'd left him, he'd been angry and hurt
but now all she saw was...what was his word? Compassion.
took a deep breath and pulled herself away from the table, standing
straight, chin out, suppressing the feelings of loss, the violation
of having something taken from her that she hadn't even known
caught up with me after I left Moya," she began. She heard
a catch in her voice and she cleared her throat to hide it. "It
was soon, John. I found the squad I thought I was looking for
but they quickly turned me over to Scorpius." She stopped
you need assistance, Aeryn?" Noranti offered, stepping forward.
held out her hand as a warning and narrowed her eyes at the old
turned to Noranti. "You. Sit." He pulled her away and
pushed her roughly into a chair. "And don't move. Got me?
nodded and stepped behind Noranti, placing both hands on her shoulders
and holding her firmly in place.
you tell them about us, Aeryn?" Rygel said.
up, Rygel," Chiana said. She turned back to Aeryn. "Couldn't
you figure it out? I mean, don't Peacekeepers usually do something
to avoid that kind of thing?"
yes. I haven't been a Peacekeeper in three cycles, in spite of
what you may think." She could hear the bitterness creep
into her voice. "I...I didn't think...I mean, I thought I
was ill...I..." She rubbed her fingers over her forehead,
frustration building inside, realizing how stupid and careless
she'd been. Even Chiana knew better. "I was never part of
the breeding program so I never thought I could...I just assumed
nothing could happen..."
you skipped sex-ed," John broke in. "It's okay, Aeryn.
looked at him. He tried to smile at her reassuringly but he only
managed to look sad. She had been carrying John Crichton's child
and she could feel his loss from where she stood. No amount of
strategy or training or weaponry had made a difference. She had
failed to protect the one thing that could not protect itself.
sorry," she said to him.
no," he said quietly. "It's not your fault." He
reached out his hand to stroke her arm.
is." She pulled away from him and began pacing. "I walked
right into it, John. The squad was too easy to find and I let
them capture me with little more than a fight. I was so frelling
anxious to leave Moya I wasn't even thinking or watching-"
felt her hand fall to her side, her fingers twitching at her pistol
and then she pulled it out of the holster, examined it, then re-holstered
it. "Scorpius is going to pay." She turned and walked
out, leaving them open-mouthed behind her.
was like making out in the front seat of a 4x4 only more cramped.
Aeryn had turned the seat around to face him, clutching at him
in desperation. He could feel her hands sliding under his T-shirt,
her fingers tracing over his chest.
he whispered. "I-" He couldn't believe he was saying
this. "Damn, Aeryn, this really isn't a good time..."
shouldn't have left you," she said into his ear, her lips
pressed against it. He was getting damned uncomfortable and he
shifted slightly. It wasn't that he didn't want to but...
this like a good-bye frell or something?" He pulled away
and looked into her eyes, then smoothed her hair back. "Aeryn,
I just don't..." He laughed a little. "How stupid am
can move over there," she offered, not really listening to
what he was trying to say.
he said finally. He cupped her face in his hands, both thumbs
tracing the outline of her eyes, her cheeks and finally her lips.
She pulled her hands away. "Not like this," he said.
"We're going to be together but not now, and not like this.
When we get the kid back. When we find a place to live where we
won't be hunted anymore. When we can finally be left alone."
He heard conviction in his voice but he didn't feel it. Not at
all. And suddenly Aeryn's end-of-the-world-frell didn't look like
such a bad idea.
the optimist," she said, smiling slightly. "I understand,
that makes one of us." He leaned into his chair, feeling
like a jerk. "We're coming back, Aeryn. I promise."
all those things I told you, about soldiers in battle, about emotions
getting in the way of clear thinking? I was right. And I have
allowed another person to sacrifice his life for mine." She
reached out and touched his face. "You shouldn't have come.
No matter what happens to me or to the child, they will not let
you go. Not this time."
you really think you were going to stop me? Short of killing me,
that is?" But there was fear brewing deep inside him. Only
an idiot could believe what he'd said about coming back but it
was a dream he'd have to hold on to, for both of them, if they
were going to get out of this.
won't leave you," she said. "Even if it means we all
die together." She turned back to the controls and they were
moving forward again, the soft hum of the engine core the only
sound he could hear.
John shouted after her, following her to her quarters as she gathered
up a few belongings. Another pulse pistol strapped to another
leg holster. Two pulse rifles, one slung over each shoulder. A
bag of grenades. She looked like something out of a Clint Eastwood
D'Argo was behind him, backing him up. "This is suicide.
I will not permit it." He stood at her doorway, blocking
the entrance, arms folded formidably across his chest.
cannot stop it," she said, forcing her way around him. He
exchanged a worried glance with John and then they both followed
her to the docking bay.
is the Prowler ready?" she asked, looking into the clamshell.
but, Officer Sun, Moya and I feel strongly that this is not a
favorable turn of events. I am sure there are other methods..."
what we keep trying to tell her," Chiana broke in. "You're
going to get yourself killed, Aeryn." Sikozu stood off in
the corner, watching the drama unfold but had no connection to
it at all. She had jumped right from the frying pan into the fire.
Bad timing. Seemed like nowadays there was nothing but bad timing.
Moya I appreciate her concern, Pilot," Aeryn said. "And
yours. You have been a faithful friend."
you." His face faded from the clamshell, his eyes sad.
is dead," Sikozu interjected finally. "This is ridiculous,
Crichton. You saw him buried."
stopped and turned to her, eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Who
the frell are you?"
girl, Sikozu, some other names I don't remember." John broke
in and caught a withering glare from Sikozu. "Long story
short, she's stuck here with us." He felt some measure of
relief at Sikozu's reminder. "And she's right. He's dead."
hooked her thumbs into her gun belt, waiting for more of an explanation
but he could see from the look in her eyes that he could talk
himself blue in the face and it wouldn't make a difference.
shot him and Crichton helped bury him," Sikozu offered. "I
take it you are Aeryn Sun?"
nodded. "How can you be sure he's dead? He's survived everything
so the cat's Wile E Coyote," John said. "But this time
he's six feet under, more or less. You're not going to get your
revenge on him."
put her hand on the Prowler's control, opening the hatch. "This
isn't about revenge, John. The child is still in the Peacekeepers'
custody. It doesn't matter that Scorpius is dead. I only hope
he died slowly and painfully."
started up the steps but John caught her arm. "Wait. Aeryn,
D'Argo's right. This is suicide."
you have a better plan? Any one of you?" She waited quietly.
"D'Argo? Chiana? Rygel?" They didn't respond. "I
thought not. You know what Peacekeepers do to half-breeds. Would
any of you leave your offspring at their mercy?"
Chiana began. "There's a price on our heads. All of us. That
includes you. I think they wanted you almost as much as they wanted
Crichton. Right, Ryg?"
million in currency for Crichton and amnesty for any crimes committed,"
Rygel said. "You were fifteen million, Aeryn. Peacekeeper
traitors and collaborators with unclassified life forms fetch
quite a price. And of course, Sebaceans would rate higher than
other life forms. Even Dominars. Crichton aside, naturally."
sound disappointed. I'm surprised you didn't turn us in yourself,
Rygel," Aeryn said disgustedly. She turned to Sikozu. "Or
shrugged. "Currency doesn't concern me at the moment."
Aeryn mused. "Perhaps Chiana had a point about bringing this
one along." She turned back towards the steps.
much do you think you can get away with?" Sikozu said. "From
what I've heard, you have destroyed a Gammak Base, a shadow depository
and a command carrier. Do you honestly think you're going to destroy
Grayza and the Peacekeepers, fetch your offspring and run back
took her foot off the step and turned towards Sikozu. "I
don't need a lecture from you."
Sputnik," John said, putting an arm around Sikozu. "You
just can't believe everything you hear. Okay?"
Red, the Peacekeepers aren't tracking you so why don't you just
jump off this crazy place any time," Chiana said. She turned
back to Aeryn. "Do whatever the frell you want to, Aeryn.
We're not going to stop you."
sighed. "Moya should starburst from here immediately after
I'm gone. You're right-I don't know if they've left some sort
of tracking device."
turned to the steps again and this time John caught her hand.
"I'm going with you," he said.
You're not. D'Argo?" She turned to the Luxan, raising her
eyebrows in a question.
shrugged. "Aeryn, I will not stop anyone from leaving this
ship. I will, however, ask them to leave the two of you here to
work this out." He stepped forward and patted her heavily
on the shoulder, letting his hand rest there. "Good luck,
my friend. I hope our paths cross again."
nodded; John could see the faintest trace of a tear in her eye
and saw her swallow hard.
big guy," John said. "Chi, take care of this guy. Sputnik-it's
been real. Rygel, try not to screw anyone over, okay?"
nodded and said their good-byes to him, with the exception of
Sikozu who had merely turned and walked off in a huff. She was
supposed to be intelligent-it hadn't taken her long to realize
that this wasn't the best of all possible worlds. It wasn't his
problem anymore. In a way, it made him feel a little lighter.
His only purpose now was to find the kid and get it-them-somewhere
safe. All he had to do was work out the details. Yeah, it would
enough firepower there for the both of us or do you want me to
grab a couple more of those things?" he said, pointing at
not going with me." She turned back towards the steps.
caught her hand again and turned her towards him, both his hands
on her shoulders. She flinched slightly and he released his hold
no, no. That's not going to work again," he said. "You've
done that to me too many times."
should cut our losses, John," she said, not looking at him.
"There's no sense in both of us dying."
I've heard that one before too and I didn't fall for it then.
I sure as hell won't now. Anyway, who's going to get you out of
there?" He put his hands on his hips, waiting.
checked her weapons for the umpteenth time, it seemed to him,
but he could tell that she hadn't even begun to think this thing
through. She was operating purely on emotion and for once, he
thought emotion was a bad thing in her. So much for being a strategist;
she was going to get herself killed before she got anywhere near
the Command Carrier.
get out," she said firmly.
and a fetus or whatever? And your pulse pistols, and those rifles
in a Prowler by yourselves..." He turned and paced then looked
at her again. "Dammit, Aeryn, for a soldier, you're really
not using your head. You know?"
threw her hands up in frustration. "John, I will find a way.
And it's a child. It would have come to term by now."
he said. That was an answer he hadn't really expected and the
suddenness of it all took the wind out of him. He leaned his hand
against the Prowler for support. "So it's born, huh?"
She hesitated then looked at him and away again, smoothing her
hands over her hair. "I don't understand...It... it's not
your child..." She faced him again, waiting. There was no
malice in her expression-she looked almost hopeful.
that's where you're wrong, Aeryn." He found himself standing
in front of her, pointing a finger in her face, emphatic. "It
is my kid. It's Crichton's kid. Damn, I didn't get to help
make it but I'm not leaving it behind, not under these conditions.
My dad wouldn't have done that to me. You should know by now,
I'm not that kind of man."
nodded slowly and he let his hand drop to his side.
know," she said. "I was hoping to give you an out."
She slid out of one of the rifles and handed it to him then pointed
to a storage crate in the corner of the docking bay. "There
may be one more bag of grenades over there. You may need them."
nothing like over-packing." He hefted the rifle in his hand,
grabbed the bag of grenades, probably some little secret stash
she'd kept handy for emergencies, and then followed her up the
Prowler's steps as the hatch closed behind them.
Future or Something Like It Chapter 2 >>