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Page One of Two

 

 

Title: Mind Games

Author: LeatherGirl lleick@yahoo.com

Archives: anywhere: email me first, please!

Rating: probably PG-13

Category: Action/Adventure

Warnings: Up to the latest of season 2

Summary: John Crichton plays Scorpius' game and threatens the crew's lives. SACCers beware! This story could actually be one possible finale to Season 2 (Though it does not end with a cliffhanger of sorts but I am thinking of writing more to go along with what happens to each character).

Disclaimers: I do not own Farscape or anything associated with Farscape yadda yadda yadda. Enjoy!

Sorry if things aren't too accurate. I'm new to this!

***************

Crichton sat silently observing the stars out the view screen in the Command room. His fingers rubbed his smooth lips gently. Crichton was lost deep in thought. Memories flashed through his mind once more from his nightmare an arn ago. Memories had rather forget. He couldn't shake the feelings of hopelessness and despair he felt from everything he had experienced in the past cycle. Crichton did not seem to notice the approaching pit pat of someone's feet on the floor.

"Crichton?" Zhaan's concerned voice asked from behind. Crichton stared into the stars and didn't move to acknowledge her. Zhaan walked around Crichton and knelt down to come face to face with him. John finally focused his empty stare onto Zhaan's inquiring eyes.

"Yes, Zhaan?" John replied tiredly, wondering what it was that needed fixing this time.

"You've been in here for several arns. Is something wrong?" Zhaan asked, placing a caring blue hand on John's arm. John blinked a few times, unprepared for an answer and looked away for a moment. He returned his gaze back to Zhaan.

"No." John tilted his head and closed his eyes. He saw a flash of his dying mother and opened his eyes in alarm. He got up suddenly with a jolt and swallowed hard. Zhaan stood in concern. She had seen a look of pain and guilt in his eyes for just a microt. John walked a few steps away and nervously swayed a moment.

"John please, let us share unity perhaps I can help you." Zhaan asked, stepping forward, her hands outreached.

John backed away, holding his hands up. He gave Zhaan a stern and angry glare. Zhaan felt a sense of hatred from John and wondered what brought on such transformations in this once peaceful being.

"John, you're not well, please let me help you." Zhaan begged, suddenly unsure if she could handle the turmoil she might see within John's soul.

"Zhaan" John started and paused. He noticed how angry he was getting and could not figure out where such anger was coming from. "Please. This entire frelling universe has had more than its share of John Crichton and his brain. Oh! Let's see what old Johnny boy can give us this time! But don't be selfish, leave a little behind for Scorpy! Zhaan, I do not need another alien probing my mind!"

With that outburst, John swirled around and charged out of the room and down the hallway, singing a strange little earthly tune. Zhaan stood for a moment, trying to translate everything the human had said. Troubled by his actions, Zhaan called the rest of the crew from their slumber.

*****************

John wandered the halls of Moya, kicking around the small silver ball he had gotten·John paused for a moment. He really couldn't quite remember where that ball had come from. In fact, that ball had been his toy since he began having flashbacks of Scorpius. John stopped in the hall and gazed down at that ball in question. He was about to pick it up when Pilot disrupted his chain of thought.

"We are approaching the commerce planet, Commander Crichton. Would you still like to stop there?" Pilot asked over the comms. John looked up and smiled devilishly.

"Yes Pilot." He then turned his attention back to the ball. John straightened and kicked the ball down the hall and began to follow it.

"John." Aeryn's voice called over the comms. John ignored her but paused at her voice. He longed for her but never had felt further away from his friends than he did now.

"Crichton, why the yotz are we stopping here? We have more than enough food and supplies to last us another quarter of a cycle. We must keep moving. The Marauder is surely to discover us here." D'Argo's angry voice reasoned over the comms.

John smiled oddly and began to head for the room Pilot was situated in. He passed a confused Chiana in the hall, gave her a flirtatious glance, and continued on.

"He's not answering nor will he realize the danger he's putting us and himself in." D'Argo replied as he and the rest of the crew stood in the Command contemplating on what the next course of action should be.

"I agree. We should starburst the frell out of here as soon as possible." Rygel replied, snacking on a cracker.

"Rygel's right we don't want to be discovered" Chiana began but was interrupted by Pilot. His hologram appeared in the shell on the wall.

"There are several Prowlers and the Marauder headed towards the Commerce Planet. I don't think they have spotted us yet but they will if we don't get out of here now!" Pilot said in haste. The crew could sense the urgency in his voice. They grew nervous.

"Yes, Pilot, starburst immediately!" D'Argo demanded.

"I'm already preparing Moya." Pilot stated.

"No, I don't think so." John stated, holding his pulse rifle up to Pilot. Pilot looked up to see Crichton slowly walking into the room with the pulse rifle in his hand. Pilot dropped his mouth in surprise and shock.

"Commander Crichton, what are you doing?" Pilot asked in fear.

"Keep Moya on a course for that planet." John said, arriving at Pilot's command center and staring at him with hollow angry eyes. Pilot grew fearful, noticing this was not the normal, gentle Crichton he had grown to respect and care for. John stood with beads of sweat trickling down his forehead. He faltered for a moment, looking off to his side and mumbling to something that Pilot could not see.

"Pilot, do as I say or I will blow your head off," John ordered sternly. He pressed a few buttons on Pilot's command and the ship turned slightly towards the planet.

"Pilot! What are you doing? We must starburst out of here immediately!" Zhaan urged with uneasiness in her voice. Pilot's image once again came on to the screen. He wore a look of tension that the crew noticed right away.

"I'm afraid Commander Crichton won't allow it." Pilot answered. The crew looked to each other and then to Pilot.

"Crichton? What do you mean, Pilot?" Aeryn asked in confusion.

"He, he says he will kill me if I do not do as he says. He has a pulse rifle aimed at me. I'm sorry, I must do what he says." Pilot stated in fear.

The crew exchanged looks and Aeryn and D'Argo withdrew their weapons. D'Argo was growing increasingly angry. They were about to head towards Pilot's quarters when Zhaan stopped them.

"Please, he doesn't realize what he's doing."

"Oh he will." D'Argo stated and with that, he and Aeryn headed for Pilot.

*************

John stood near Pilot, his rifle never lowered as he blankly stared at Pilot. His eyes were red from exhaustion. Pilot knew this human wasn't thinking right he couldn't be. The Command Crichton he knew would not surrender himself so easily.

"You are aware that if you go down to that planet you will be captured by Scorpius." Pilot stated.

"Oh I'm well aware of the consequences. Scorpy and I are old buddies. We just need to catch up on a few things before I blow his head off." John stated, staring into Pilot. He closed his eyes for a moment, looking distressed. He opened them once more and focused back on Pilot.

"You've been quite distracted since we found you on that commerce planet. What happened?" Pilot asked. He was right. John had been acting differently since then. John shifted uncomfortably. A wave of memories from that day stung his mind. John rubbed his eyes painfully and then looked back to Pilot.

"Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Are we almost there?" John asked. He seemed suddenly calmer than before. Pilot noticed the human seemed to be suffering a lot of mood swings as well.

"Crichton, drop your weapon!" Aeryn demanded from the entrance to the room. Crichton smiled crazily and let out a little laugh. He turned his head to watch Aeryn and D'Argo enter the room with weapons drawn.

"So nice of you to join the party, amigos!" John stated in a bout of laughter. The two stepped closer. Without warning, John fired a warning shot at their feet and then pointed his weapon swiftly back to Pilot. Aeryn and D'Argo stepped back slightly, looking at John with bewilderment.

"Have you gone mad?" D'Argo asked.

"You've completely lost it. You aren't thinking clearly. Lower your weapon or we will be forced to fire." Aeryn demanded. She locked her sights on John. She did not want to hurt her friend but if he was threatening the crew and ship's lives·she would do what was necessary·no matter what feelings she had for this human.

"Fire? Huh! You wouldn't, no you couldn't fire on your old buddy old pal. No, Aeryn, you've softened. D'Argo, maybe not, but you, Aeryn. I don't think so." John said and looked to Pilot once more.

"Crichton! Lower your weapon or I will shoot you!" D'Argo threatened angrily.

"John, listen to me, you are not thinking clearly. That command carrier will surely catch up to us. Scorpius will capture you and kill you. Is that what you want, human?" Aeryn replied sternly. She held her weapon in a dead aim for John, not once lowering it.

"Pilot, stay on a direct course." John stated. He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, trying to erase the painful memories seeping into his mind. Without warning, he fired at the structure directly above Aeryn and D'Argo, sending down a spray of sparks and steam. A duct had ruptured, spraying blinding steam straight down on the two defenders. As they stumbled out of the heated steam, they realized John had escaped out of the room.

"Pilot, report!" Aeryn choked into her comms as she ran out of the room and down the hall with D'Argo close behind.

"He's headed for the docking bay. He's ordered me to prepare his module." Pilot stated.

"Don't do it, Pilot! We're on our way there!" Aeryn ordered, running at full speed.

"Aeryn, D'Argo! Do not hurt him. Only disable him for the moment! He's not himself, remember!" Zhaan cried out worriedly over the comms.

"Don't worry, Zhaan. I will give him a sting he will not forget!" D'Argo raged over the comms.

**************

In the docking bay, John was already in his module; firing it up and watching the outer doors open so he could exit Moya. He paused for a moment, as if his old self were trying to emerge. But the new John was here to stay. Somehow, his mind had been taken over by something·or someone. John could not figure out how or why he was the way he was now. He felt no control over his actions and even his thoughts now. And his consciousness was not resisting. All he could hear was Scorpius' voice cheering him on as he went. Only a small thread of his usual self was trying to call to him and stop this madness. John could not fight it. He was being possessed by another force and there was no stopping it. At his most vulnerable hour, he was defenseless.

"Pilot, keep those doors going or I will blast my way out of here!" John ordered when the doors halted. A few microts later the doors continued to open. John drove his module down the runway and was soon out of the ship and into space. He could now see the planet fully as well as the prowlers and Marauder in the distance. Smiling evilly, John laughed and headed on a straight course for the planet.

Aeryn and D'Argo arrived in the docking bay just as the outer doors were closing back down.

"PILOT! What the frell did you do that for! You could have stopped him!" D'Argo exclaimed angrily. He knocked over a few crates nearby to relieve some of his anger. Aeryn lowered her weapon and grew a face of worry.

"Pilot, how long before he reaches the planet and is discovered by the command carrier?" Aeryn asked, a sense of hopelessness creeping into her voice.

"In only a few microns he will be detected by their scans. And shortly thereafter, so will we." Pilot stated unhappily.

Aeryn and D'Argo traveled back to command to join the rest of the crew as they watched Chrichton's module head towards the planet on the view screen.

"By the goddess, I hope he knows what he's doing." Zhaan stated in panic.

"Did you see his eyes? He looked so lost. I don't even think he was himself." Chianna replied, lost in thought. D'Argo arrived at her side as Aeryn approached the controls to monitor the situation.

"What do we do now? Wait to be discovered and destroyed by Scorpius?" Rygel asked angrily.

"Maybe Crichton has a plan." Chianna stated desperately. She looked at the others who gave her a doubtful look. "Yeah, we're definitely as good as dead."

***************

Another flash of memories passed through Chrichton's mind as he headed towards the planet. He saw himself, as he once was·innocent and the anchor of the crew for thinking things through instead of blasting the way to the answer with violence. That soul was long lost and buried deep within him. Now, he was a hollow man filled with rage and hate. Seeking one thing and one thing only·to silence that haunting voice in his head. To end Scorpius' rein on Chrichton's every existing moment. Somehow, John realized Scorpius was a part of him. He did not know how or why, but Scorpius seemed to be with him always since they had first met. No matter what John did, Scorpius knew where he was or what he was doing. It was like he was there with him. Crichton squeezed his eyes shut to rid of the memories of pain he had suffered and concentrated on the task on hand.

He was strong enough to realize he needed to isolate himself from Moya and the crew to save their lives. But not strong enough to resist the urge to listen to that voice in his head, Scorpius' demanding voice. And the voice told him he needed to face his enemy. He needed to surrender.

"John. Do you hear me? John?" Zhaan's voice called over the comms. John chose to ignore her pleading voice. She sounded desperate and scared. Only a tiny impulse within John felt for her.

"Listen here, human." D'Argo's angry voice interrupted. D'Argo uttered a few words that John's microbes could not translate. John was about to turn his comms off when something in his head stopped him. Deep down within him, he realized it would be smart to leave the comms on. To record anything that might happen down on the planet.

"John. You are not acting normal. Turn around immediately. You will surely be killed if you don't" Aeryn's demanding PeaceKeeper voice urged. "Or is that what you want?"

The last comment tugged at John's conscience. But something else took over and John speeded up towards the planet. He stopped listening to the pleading voices and suddenly heard another voice he had not heard from in too long of a time. His mother's.

"John. Please. Please don't leave us. Don't leave us again." His mother's voice cried in angst. Tears welled up in John's eyes as he listened to her voice and longed to be with his mother once more. That scar from so long ago had not yet healed.

"John! What a surprise. So nice to see you. Let's get together and chat, shall we?" Scorpius' voice replied over the comms. Startled, John glanced around his module, half expecting to see Scorpius' face morph from the controls in front of him.

"Shut up, Scorpy! I'm already doing what you want. Just leave them alone and let's get this over with," John stated, not really knowing what he was getting himself into. He just wanted all the pain to end. He knew deep down what he was doing was the best for Moya and the crew.

After an arn, John landed safely down on the planet. He was greeted by stern PeaceKeepers once he exited his module. John did not resist. He observed how much this commerce planet resembled the last one they had been to and followed the PeaceKeepers to a large structure. He already knew Scorpius was in there. They entered the structure and walked through a maze of several dark hallways. John was growing tired and dizzy from walking so long and began to wonder what the hell he was doing. A light shone onto his face as he was led into a large central room decorated with the usual homey PeaceKeeper colors. A throne was situated at the opposite end of the room. Scorpius sat patiently waiting on the throne. John immediately recognized this room from the flashes he had been experiencing when Scorpius was trying to keep him sane.

The PeaceKeepers shoved John forward into the room and the doorway behind him morphed into a wall. There was no exit now. John stared at the wall blankly and turned to see Scorpius. It was as if his mind had suddenly been erased. He could not fathom how he had gotten here or what he was doing here. John stepped forward and stopped halfway into the room. He looked up to see a bright light shining down on him and then looked back to Scorpius.

Scorpius grinned with an evil little chuckle and arose from his chair. He walked down a few steps and came face to face with Crichton. He then began to circle him.

"It's been a long time, my friend." Scorpius smiled. Crichton watched Scorpius wearily and tried to search his memory on how he had gotten here and what might have happened to Moya and the crew.

"Where are we? What have you done to Moya and the others?" John demanded. He suddenly began to feel extremely exhausted.

"You're tired, John. You look exhausted. Have a seat." Scorpius stated in a controlling manner. John stumbled slightly as a chair rose from the floor behind him. He willingly listened to Scorpius and sat down in the chair, rubbing his eyes tiredly. He struggled to keep focused, but was finding it harder to concentrate as his mind began to numb.

****************

"What do you mean the Command Carrier has turned towards us? Has it detected us?" D'Argo asked angrily, fussing over the controls with Aeryn. Zhaan had completely tuned into the Delvian Seek and was currently praying to the goddesses. Rygel was floating anxiously around Command worrying what would become of them. Chiana was nervously hassling Pilot about the situation at hand in Pilot's quarters.

"I'm afraid so." Pilot answered to D'Argo and then turned his attention to Chiana.

"What do you mean he looked different? He's John- he doesn't change colors or anything!" Chiana exclaimed, continuing their conversation before D'Argo's interruption.

"There was something different in his eyes. It was if, it was if someone else was controlling him." Pilot stated softly. Chiana shared a gaze with Pilot and pondered the thought.

"You don't think Scorpius has anything to do with the way he was acting, do you?" Chiana asked.

"I don't know." Pilot answered honestly.

"Frell that Crichton. We should be searching for my son, not wasting our time trying to figure out what the frell made him lose his mind." D'Argo exclaimed angrily.

"We can only handle one thing at a time, D'Argo" Aeryn reasoned. She stopped and watched the fleet of PeaceKeepers approaching. For a brief moment, part of her wanted to join the fleet and head into battle. It was what she was trained for.

"Zhaan, how can you be so calm when we're about to be destroyed by PeaceKeepers?" D'Argo raged on. Zhaan glanced at him with an angry glare and turned her attention back to praying.

"D'Argo, stop. It's too late." Aeryn stated suddenly. She held her gaze on the view screen.

"What are you talking about, Aeryn? We still can starburst out of here." D'Argo yelled.

"No. They've locked their frag cannons on us. It's too late. Besides, I'm not abandoning Crichton. No matter how crazy he appears to be he needs our help. I, for one, need to return the favor." Aeryn seemed calm. Too calm for D'Argo

"Have you lost your mind as well? Maybe you should be down there with Crichton!" D'Argo stated. With that, he angrily stalked out of Command. Aeryn watched him leave and turned to Zhaan.

"It looks as though it is too late to starburst. Unfortunately, the PeaceKeepers have demanded that we surrender. I see no other alternative at this point." Pilot stated with defeat over the comms. Aeryn glanced at the view screen and then back to Zhaan.

"I hope your gods are listening·we're going to need all the help we can get." Aeryn stated. She turned and headed out of the Command.

***************

John could feel that all too familiar fear rising in his stomach. His worse enemy had gotten the best of him. Somehow, his mind had gotten so frelled that he must have surrendered himself to Scorpius. Impossible! There's no way I'd give in to Scorpius.

Yes, John, there is. You wanted to save your shipmates so you surrendered to me. A wise choice. You'll save everyone a lot of pain and suffering. Scorpius' voice echoed throughout John's mind.

John looked at Scorpius, who had resumed circling him. Scorpius wore that same old familiar grin that John had been haunted with for so long. The numbness within was growing stronger, and John could feel himself growing weaker by the minute. He could not figure out how Scorpius was controlling him. And the anger growing deep within him was making John feel more unsettled than ever.

"What do you want from me that you haven't already taken?" John asked, knowing the answer.

"Johnny boy, you already know that one. Why don't you ask what's really bothering you?" Scorpius asked, lowering his face to John's left ear and then raising once again to circle John.

"Fine. Why are you in my head? Why·" John stopped and came to the realization he had once discovered but somehow forgotten. The anger within him unleashed and John lunged at Scorpius. A jolt of electricity shook John's body, forcing him to fall back into the chair, doubled over in pain. He held his head in his hands and looked up at Scorpius weakly.

"You planted that thing in my head. I want it out!" John demanded breathlessly.

"That's not how we play the game, John. You know what I need and you're going to give it to me. No matter what it takes." Scorpius stated.

John rubbed his aching head with his rough hands and looked back to Scorpius with an unsteady gaze. He knew there was no way out of this. The mental chip Scorpius had planted in his head had begun to control his thoughts and actions.

*************

"Surrender?" Rygel squeaked nervously. The crew stood gathered in Command staring out through the view screen. After Pilot had unsuccessfully tried to prepare Moya for starburst, the Marauder fired a warning shot. The crew realized there was no way out.

"There is nothing we can do. May the goddess be with us." Zhaan stated hysterically, passing her hands over her head with a quick prayer.

"We can't just give up. We've got to fight!" Chiana disagreed. She brushed against D'Argo's side. "You won't surrender, D'Argo You have to find your son. I have to find my brother. Come on!"

"Chiana! We are outnumbered. A true warrior lays down his weapon when he recognizes defeat." D'Argo stated, staring out into the vast fleet of prowlers circling Moya. Chiana couldn't believe her ears. Everyone was giving up.

"What the frell do you guys think you're doing? No way would you ever give up this easily. Crichton once told me, where there's a will, there's a pathway·or something like that. If we believe we can get out of this, we can. And I know Crichton is down there for a reason. He may seem like he's gone completely crazy·but I'm sure he has a plan." Chiana tried to reason.

"What are you talking about, Chiana? Just face reality." Aeryn grunted unhappily.

"Well, we're not dead yet. Crichton must be stalling for us. Those Prowlers are guarding us. Something's not right. Trust me." Chiana stated, looking out to the Prowlers.

"Chiana, just face it·" D'Argo began but was cut off by Aeryn.

"D'Argo, she's right." Aeryn replied and headed over to the controls to monitor the situation. "They haven't even directly contacted us. We're being held captive but we are not the attention of that Marauder·Crichton is."

"Scorpius." Zhaan whispered.

"Crichton somehow knew Scorpius was here and perhaps felt he had to sacrifice himself. He may have thought of it as a good plan·but he sure could have informed us about it." Aeryn reasoned.

"He's down there with Scorpius, and we're up here with the PeaceKeepers. There's no way we can save each other from an equal fate." Rygel stated in a dreaded voice.

"I will not give up. My son is out there and I am this close to finding him! We must fight!" D'Argo stated, changing his mind all together.

"Stubborn Luxan." Aeryn muttered under her breath. She turned her attention to Pilot. "Pilot, are Chrichton's comms on?

"I believe so." Pilot said with surprise.

"Crichton? Can you hear me?" Aeryn stated. Silence followed. Aeryn tried once again. Still nothing.

"He's probably ignoring you." Rygel said. Aeryn ignored Rygel's remark.

"John, listen to me and listen to me very carefully. I don't care whether you may hear me or not. We are not giving up. I don't believe you have surrendered us or that you have surrendered yourself. Please don't frell this up. A warrior fights to the death. You have proved to me that you are a warrior."

Silence followed her speech. Aeryn bit her lip nervously and looked to the others.

"I think it's up to him, now." Zhaan replied.

****************

John was leaned forward in the chair, rubbing his eyes sorely. Scorpius had settled back down on his throne and had been staring at John intently for quite a while. John's comms had crackled for a few moments before bringing him to remember his shipmate's worried glances when he had last seen them. I must've gone completely off the deep end. They'll never forgive me for this·if I even seen them ever again.

"John, why bother yourself with wondering about your shipmates. They can't help you now, or vice versa. The only thing for you to do is to let me probe your brain freely to find the information that I need. When I have found the wormhole technology, I will release you back to them. There will be no harm done. You won't even remember any of this." Scorpius pleaded, leaning forward on his throne.

John looked at those evil beady eyes drilling into his own and then looked away anxiously. His head was beginning to ache even more than before and his thoughts were broken and distorted. John no longer knew what thoughts were his own and what thoughts were from the chip.

"If I let you have the wormhole technology, you promise not to harm anyone on Moya? You promise to leave us alone?" John bargained, looking to Scorpius once again. He couldn't believe himself. He would not normally give up so easily. Then again, he wasn't even himself at the moment.

"I will obey your wishes, yes." Scorpius replied with a smile. He stood and walked down to stand in front of John. "Give me the wormhole technology, and I'll make sure you never remember any of the suffering you've gone through."

John pondered those words over and over in his mind. He wanted to believe them so badly, but his true self knew that Scorpius would never comply with his wishes. He had to do something·and without letting the Scorpy chip or the real Scorpius on to his plan. The only other alternative was death.

***********

"Talyn? He's here?" Aeryn asked in confusion. Pilot had just announced to the crew that Talyn had arrived in the area and was preparing his weapons to fire upon the PeaceKeepers. The PeaceKeepers were on alert, prepared to fire upon the Leviathan if she attacked.

"He's arrived and is protecting Moya." Pilot stated, his scans suddenly picking up on Talyn's exact location. "He's concealed himself underneath Moya."

"What about Crais? Why would he be doing this?" D'Argo asked with concern.

"Talyn is completely acting on his own. Crais is having trouble controlling him." Pilot answered. He paused to listen to Talyn and Moya communicate. "I do believe Talyn has grown as a military ship and wishes to defend his mother."

"He may be our only chance." Aeryn stated sorrowfully. "Pilot, notify Crais and Talyn that I am coming aboard."

"Aeryn, this is not wise." D'Argo stated, grabbing Aeryn's arm as she passed him. Aeryn shrug off his grip and stared at him with the usual PeaceKeeper glare.

"We have a chance." Aeryn replied simply. She turned and headed out of Command.

Zhaan glanced at D'Argo and then to Chiana and Rygel. They shared the same look of dread that she was feeling.

**************

John racked his brain for a solution to his current situation. He was balancing between two sanities. One was his own: the other controlled by Scorpius. No matter what he tried, Scorpius would know of his actions before he even acted upon them. Somehow, he had to get that chip out of his head.

John glanced around the room, scanning the walls for even a fissure in the structure that could lead to the outside world. To his dismay, he was in the perfect cell. No way to the world outside and trapped inside with his enemy.

"Johnny boy, time's up. What are you waiting for?" Scorpius chanted from his throne. John glanced up at Scorpius and a thought sprung into his mind. Just a tiny thought that only a human could understand. "Unleash the hounds? What does that mean?" Scorpius inquired, reading John's mind.

John realized now that the Scorpius in the room with him was just another decoy. Another mind game. John stood up and screamed at the top of his lungs.

"SCORPIUS, SHOW YOUR SORRY ASS NOW!" John screamed. The room began to swirl in front of him. John thought he was getting dizzy and would lose his mind but realized it was the room that was moving, not him. Stressed, John stumbled slightly as the room grew dark and he began to feel the cold of the real atmosphere he was in. John recognized this room from the Royal Planet when his stone head had been thrown into a pit of acid. But it was slightly different for there was no acid or even any heat. The coldness of the dungeon-like room was more than he was dressed to handle. The room suddenly morphed once more. John was left in complete darkness, shivering in the cold. He hugged himself to keep warm and felt the anger rising within him. He was sick of Scorpius' games.

"I underestimated you, John. You're much smarter than I first thought." Scorpius' voice stated. His voice sounded hollow and distant, revealing to John that he was yet in another room with stone walls.

"Gee thanks, I get that a lot in the uncharted territories." John sarcastically remarked.

He shivered once again and glanced around as a light began to fill the room. John noticed he was in a small cell. Scorpius was standing within the light. A door closed behind him and the light disappeared, leaving John and Scorpius in pitch black. A singular beam of red light shone down from straight above John's head. John glanced at it for a moment, trying not to be blinded by the light. He found that he couldn't move his legs at all. He looked to Scorpius who approached him with a wry smile on his face.

"I've got you exactly where I want you. And it was quite easy." Scorpius boasted with a hiss. He stared John down with those beady little eyes. John felt very uncomfortable under his stare. John blinked a few times, realizing his brain was beginning to feel like Jello.

"What·what are you doing to me?" John stuttered, realizing that Scorpius had already gotten into his head to look for the technology he possessed. The chip was being put to work. John struggled against it, realizing that he had little control left in his body. Memories flashed through his mind, causing John to go through everything had seen on the false earth the Scarren had helped produce all over again. All the emotions swept over him. His muscles began to ache and John felt he was about to collapse. No matter how much it hurt, John realized what he had to do. He had to let the chip kill him before finding the information it needed.

"No, John. You mustn't let go. Open your mind freely and it won't hurt as much." Scorpius' voice stated, inside John's mind. John closed his eyes in pain. He grunted and gasped for air. His lungs were tightening more and more by the microt. Relief. That's all he wanted. Relief.

John suddenly began to listen to Scorpius. He stopped resisting the chip and actually felt a wave of relief pass over his body. He was able to breathe better and his body felt somewhat rested. But his brain was completely mashed. John couldn't hold onto reality for much longer.

"John·concentrate on me and only me." Zhaan's voice suddenly entered John's head. John opened his eyes but saw he was still under the red light and Scorpius was still circling him intently. John could not understand why the chip had not yet detected her voice. But he knew he should not respond·or he might give Zhaan away. A wave of pain swept through John once more and he could feel himself losing control. Scorpius grinned greedily at John and watched as he suffered. "John, Talyn is here with us. We have a chance. Just concentrate on my voice." Could this be another trick? John tried to ignore her voice.

*************_____

"What is Zhaan doing? She's not responding to us anymore," Chiana asked amidst the hectic atmosphere of Command where D'Argo was pacing madly, waiting to hear from Aeryn. Rygel was now nowhere in sight, presumably hiding. Zhaan stood with both her palms out in the air, her eyes closed, and muttering softly to herself. Chiana circled Zhaan, watching her closely and struggling to make sense of the words she was muttering.

"Probably praying to her goddesses that we all endure a quick and painless death!" D'Argo replied angrily. "Aeryn! Are you aboard Talyn yet?" D'Argo barked into his comms.

"Not yet, D'Argo Crais isn't responding to my request to board Talyn." Aeryn's upset voice carried over on the comms.

"What is John up to? Why aren't the PeaceKeepers doing anything?" Chiana asked aloud, trying to figure things out. She was growing more nervous by the microt.

"I sense much pain in you, John. Please, concentrate on my voice. It will calm you and guide you." Zhaan whispered. Chiana gazed at Zhaan curiously.

*************

John listened to that sweet voice he realized he missed so dearly. He hung onto it with all his might, struggling against the effects of the chip. Another jolt of electricity shocked John's body, causing him to go in to a short bout of convulsions. John's legs weakened and he fell to the floor in a lump. Scorpius sneered and bent over to peer down at John. His eyes were closed and he appeared not to be breathing. Growing angry, Scorpius closed his eyes and tried to gather information from the chip. But he got nothing. The chip was no longer responding.

"You can't be dead, Crichton, the chip won't allow it." Scorpius stated securely.

"You're right, it won't" John slurred his words as he opened his eyes weakly. He lifted his torso with his shaking arms but fell back to the stone cold floor, feeling there was no strength left in his body. Instead, he relished the cold floor cooling his overheated body. Scorpius paced around him, growing impatient.

"What's happening? The chip won't respond!" Scorpius growled. John let out a loud crazy laugh and smiled up at Scorpius as he rested the side of his face on the floor.

"Damn, don't you hate it when the computer chip fries?!" John laughed in retaliation.

"There was no malfunction. Or you would be dead. Something else has caused it to stop. But what?" Scorpius asked. He scooped down to look at John closer.

"Perhaps you're hiding more than wormholes in that head of yours." Scorpius suggested. He grinned and stood tall. He spoke into his comms to someone above ground, uttering something about more output in the machine. John tried to move from his current location but found it hard to lift a finger. Instead, he listened for Zhaan's voice. Silence.

"You can't do this to me for much longer·humans can only take so much torture before their minds shut down. You'll never get any wormhole technology from me because there's none there to begin with." John stated boldly, listening to his voice echo against the stone walls of the cell. Scorpius let out a long evil chuckle as he continued his circling around Crichton.

"Perhaps we should take the chip out and replace it with a newer, stronger version." Scorpius stated, looking off into the darkness.

"No!" John muttered with seriousness creeping into his crazed state. He did not want to suffer for much longer but would do what it took to keep Scorpius and the PeaceKeepers at bay until Moya and the others had a chance to escape.

************

Moya hovered high above the planet, sheltering Talyn against the parade of Prowlers guarding the ship. But Talyn had grown bigger and more aggressive since they had last met. As he fought with his mother, he tried to convince her that he should be protecting her, not the other way around.

Pilot listened carefully to the conversation between the two ships and relayed as much of it as possible back to the crew.

"Aeryn has entered Talyn and is now speaking with Crais." Pilot announced.

"Finally." D'Argo grunted.

Chiana stood a few feet away from Zhaan, continuing to observe her. She pondered on how Zhaan could possibly be reaching Crichton.

"I don't know what you're up to, Zhaan·but I hope to hezmana that it works!" Chiana muttered.

"You know, we wouldn't be in this mess if it weren't for Crichton. What the frell did he think he was doing by going down to that planet? Scorpius has for sure spotted him and gone down there after him." D'Argo raged. He was growing increasingly impatient as time passed and their situation had not changed.

"D'Argo? How can you say that? Don't you see? Crichton sacrificed himself to spare us." Chiana stated, seeing the situation completely different from D'Argo She stood up to him and looked into his eyes. She could see he was still upset about the news of his son, Jothee, being sold as a slave.

"Spare us from what? Scorpius? Maybe. But we are still escaped prisoners and now back in the control of the PeaceKeepers." D'Argo stated. He was about to say more when Moya began to shift around, throwing everyone to the floor, including Zhaan. Zhaan shook her head and realized she had lost contact with John and began to try to resume her previous state.

"Moya's beginning to panic!" Pilot yelled over the comms.

"Pilot! What's going on?" D'Argo demanded to know.

"What the frell is that?" Chiana asked with a hint of fear in her voice. Through the view screen, the crew could see a large circular mechanism slightly larger than Moya being hauled towards them by two PeaceKeeper ships.

"It's a Control Collar!" Pilot exclaimed in alarm. The Prowlers circling Moya began to part as the collar was brought closer and prepared to be placed around Moya once again. Several shots were fired at Moya to paralyze her. Moya maneuvered frantically out of the line of fire. Talyn instinctively began to attack the collar and ships hauling it but was fired upon as well.

"What the frell is going on?" Aeryn asked in surprise. She had been discussing with Crais the future of Talyn.

"They're attempting to place a control collar back on Moya. We must starburst out of here immediately or Talyn will be next. You don't want Talyn in the hands of the PeaceKeepers do you?" Crais asked, getting in Aeryn's face. Aeryn glared at him for a moment and stepped forward to address Talyn.

"Talyn, calm down."

"Talyn, continue fire on the control collar!" Crais ordered. Talyn obediently obeyed and fired his canons.

"You cannot order Talyn to do anything!" Aeryn argued. Crais smiled and stepped up to Aeryn.

"Aeryn Sun, you have yet to learn my strengths. Talyn needs guidance and I can give him that. Soon, he'll be a mighty fleet of his own and will need to know the proper ways of battle. How is he going to learn that from a Leviathan whose only defense is the ability to starburst?" Aeryn glared into Crais' smug expression.

"Besides, Crichton was wise to surrender himself to Scorpius. Now Moya and Talyn have a chance to escape."

Aeryn looked to Crais with question and then out the view screen at the battle taking place between Talyn, Moya, and the control collar. Talyn rocked back and forth, avoiding several shots from the PeaceKeeper ships.

"We cannot leave Crichton." Aeryn replied stubbornly after pondering the suggestion of escape.

"Crichton is as good as dead and you know it." Crais stated, brushing past Aeryn's shoulder. Aeryn looked as Crais cast her a glance to read her reaction. She knew if things had been different, she and Crais would have been together. She would have been traveling on Talyn and not on Moya. But Aeryn realized her feelings were too strong for Crichton. There were a countless number of times he had saved her life and vice versa. He had infiltrated a PeaceKeeper Gammak Base and suffered in the Aurora Chair·all for her. And she would do the same for him.

"Trained as a PeaceKeeper, why are you willing to fight for one man's life? We were taught to fight for the common good, to spare no one." Crais asked curiously. Aeryn was caught off guard by his inquiry. She stumbled for a moment.

"He saved my life a number of times. I must return the favor." Aeryn replied.

"He will not survive Scorpius' torment, I can guarantee that." Crais stated. "There is a time to fight and a time to flee·we must leave now!"

"No, I will not abandon him. I owe him·as he once stated it." Aeryn argued. "We're going to find a way to save Crichton and Moya."

************

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