Wayward astronaut John Crichton returns home after almost a decade away
from Earth, and brings his daughter. Insert your favorite disclaimer here.
Also, my only knowledge of any space program comes from re-runs of “I
Dream of Jeannie,” so don’t expect a lot of verisimilitude. Just suspend
The Lounge of the ISS
"We need to talk to the President - do you think you can arrange it, Toshi?" John asked.
"I'll try - but it looks like Simpson has control over everything at mission control," Toshi answered.
"No matter who you talk to, give out as little information as possible - I don't want Simpson or his men thinking they need to "debrief" you as soon as they can get their hands on you. They already tried it with DK, and they didn't let a little thing like his rights stop 'em from keeping DK over 24 hours." John replied. For this reason, John had requested that he and Aeryn remain separate from the rest of the ISS crew--the less they knew they less they'd have to be "debriefed."
"Gotcha - you want me to play dumb. I can do that. I'm from California - people expect it!" Toshi said and laughed.
Toshi reached the door to the corridor, turned back and asked, "So, what are you going to say to the President, if we can get a hold of him?"
John smiled ruefully. "I'm sorry, Toshi, but the less you know, the better."
After Toshi closed the door behind him, Aeryn asked "Well, John, what will you say to the President?" She sat on a padded bench along the back wall.
"Pretty much the same thing I've been saying: join the Alliance, you'll have a lot of new trade partners, access to technology and medicine you've never dreamed of, and military allies if you need them. But this time I get to frighten them with the news about the Scarrans having wormhole technology," John said as he crossed the small room and sat down next to Aeryn.
"Why are they being so reluctant? If they've gone to the trouble of establishing a space exploration program, why won't they join the alliance, and be able to explore that much more of it?" Aeryn asked, not that she could concentrate on John's reply - her senses were too overwhelmed from being so close to John again to think properly.
"I dunno, maybe they don't believe me. Maybe they have to see aliens before they'll believe in them. Too bad you're not a Delvian or a Luxan. Sebaceans look too much like humans to have a dramatic visual impact," John joked. He leaned closer to Aeryn, smiled and said "Not that I don't like looking at you - I could do this all day." John caressed Aeryn's cheek.
Aeryn quickly turned away, but said nothing.
"Aeryn, are you ever going to forgive me?" John asked with a pained look on his face.
Aeryn looked at John, surprised. "Forgive you for what?" She asked, puzzled.
"Whatever it was I said or did almost seven cycles ago that drove you away from me. The hell of it is, is I can't even figure out what I did wrong!" John slid off the bench and knelt in front of Aeryn. As he took her hands in his John asked softly "Will you forgive me? Tell me what I have to do to get you back."
"No, John," Aeryn said before she realized her mistake. John looked as if he were in agony. "I mean, there is nothing to forgive you for," Aeryn added quickly. Still holding John's hands, she pulled John back up to the bench. This was the moment she had dreaded for over six cycles. She had seen John only a handful of times since she left Moya - two, three times a cycle, at the most. Aeryn had cherished each one of the encounters, no matter how brief. Each time, Aeryn resolved to tell John, but never did-she was afraid that John would never want to see her again after she told him why she left Moya. Now, Aeryn wished she had listened to Zhaan and told John right away.
"John, if you asked me to go with you to the Royal Planet a solar day earlier, I would have said yes," Aeryn began.
"So what happened after that to make you change your mind?" John asked.
Aeryn pulled her hands away from John's and looked down. She couldn't find the right words, so just said bluntly: "I had a miscarriage. I didn't even know I was pregnant -my contraceptive implant failed. That is why I was in Zhaan's medical lab." Feeling the tears well up, Aeryn stopped to regain her composure. She was surprised when John wrapped his arms around her - this was not the reaction she expected.
"Aeryn, I'm sorry, so sorry " John said as he held her tight. He tried his best to sooth and comfort Aeryn, but didn't know what else to say.
"You're not angry?" Aeryn asked.
"How can you even ask that?" John said. "It wasn't your fault. But you should have told me. Why didn't you tell me? I would have been there for you when you needed me."
Aeryn broke away from John's embrace and stood up. As she wiped away her tears she said, "That's exactly why I didn't tell you. If I told you, you would have stayed with me on Moya, even though you wanted to be with your daughter. Eventually, you would have resented me for keeping you away from your daughter. And I couldn't go with you to the Royal Planet. I just couldn't stand the thought of seeing you with the child you had with another woman. I, uh, seem to have a problem with jealousy." Aeryn wasn't sure what to say, or do next. She looked at John, and realized that he was also crying.
John wasn't sure which emotion was strongest: his grief for the lost baby, his anger at Aeryn for keeping it a secret, or his relief that he hadn't lost Aeryn forever. 'I guess that last one makes me a selfish bastard,' he thought to himself. John rose and stood face to face with Aeryn. John placed his hands on Aeryn's cheeks and said hoarsely "If anything like that ever happens again, you be sure to tell me right away, OK?"
Aeryn smiled and nodded then wrapped her arms around John's neck and they kissed. Deep and slow, it was the kind of kiss only for lovers reunited after a very long separation.
Jack and Katie Crichton made their daily trip to Baskin-Robbins. It was so routine by now that they didn't bother to tell the Secret Service agents where they were going - they already knew. Jack could tell Katie's heart wasn't really in it today, however. He knew that she was thinking of John; Katie was still sure that something bad would happen to her father. Jack and Katie held hands as they walked the short distance into town. Jack looked down at his granddaughter and smiled. She was wearing a red tee shirt, faded overalls, and white canvas sneakers, and had her hair pulled back into a ponytail. With make-up covering the tattoo on her cheek, Katie looked like any other seven year-old - who would ever guess she was the heir to the throne of a planet on the other side of the universe?
The street was fairly crowded as they headed towards the ice cream parlor. Two men stopped Jack and Katie before they could enter. One of them stepped forward and said "Col. Crichton, we'd like to talk to your granddaughter."
Jack Crichton protectively swept Katie behind him. "Who are you?" He asked.
"We're from the government," was all he said as the two agents moved closer to the Crichtons.
"I'd like to see some identification," Jack said as he and Katie stepped back. A dark sedan with heavily tinted windows pulled up beside them and a door opened. The agent who had done all the talking nodded to his partner, who pulled a gun on them. He held it close enough to his body that the many passersby didn't see it.
"Now just hold on," Jack said as he held up his hands - not in surrender, but in an effort to keep distance between Katie and the gun. At the same time, Jack wondered where the Secret Service agents were. Usually, Jack felt as if he were tripping over them every time he went into town.
Katie knew Granddad would try to talk their way out of this. 'He doesn't see how dangerous these men are,' she thought to herself as she reached for Miss Jenavian's necklace. Katie stopped when the man with the gun grabbed Granddad and held him at gunpoint. The other man said, "Get in the car, little girl."
Katie quickly ran through her options. The two men obviously wouldn't listen to her, so talking was out. If she used the necklace, she might hurt Granddad, too, so that was out. Finally, Katie remembered one of Chiana's stories. Katie screamed as loud as she could while pointing at the first man. Instantly, people who seconds before had been minding their own business had stopped in their tracks and turned to look at Katie. Shopkeepers had come out of their stores to see what was happening. "That man touched me in a bad place and tried to get me into his car, and when my Granddad tried to stop him, the other one hurt Granddad! Stop them!"
As the crowd began to close in on the two men (they figured the odds were on their side against two men), the man with the gun threw Jack Crichton to the ground and shot his gun in the air. Everyone froze where they stood. The two men got into the back seat of the sedan, and it sped away.
Jack got up and hugged Katie. "That was some fast thinking on your part, Katie. Are you OK, sweetie?" Katie nodded, but she was crying.
Jack looked closer, and saw that Katie was also smiling. "Chiana taught me how to cry on demand," she whispered to Jack.
Jack could hear people all around him say, "Could you believe that?"
"Did anyone get the license plate number?"
"I don't think that car even had a license plate on it."
"Col. Crichton, are you hurt? How's your granddaughter?"
"What is this world coming to?"
Sheriff Winters drove Jack and Katie home after they filled out the police reports. "Sure hope you don't think that kind of thing happens here all the time, Col. Crichton," Winters said as Jack and Katie got out of the police cruiser.
Jack sent Katie into the house, and turned back to the cruiser. "I know, Sheriff. And I know they weren't locals. As much as I want to see those men punished, I don't think you'll find them - I think they're long gone by now."
"We sent out the APB right away - we may catch them yet," Sheriff Winters said, even though he privately agreed with Jack. "You take care now," he said as he drove off.
Jack was furious. He walked to the Secret Service agents' car and yelled "Where the hell were you, Agent Watson?" Jack yanked open the driver's side door as he said "I thought your job was to protect my granddaughter!" Watson didn't answer - he was slumped over the steering wheel, his partner was in a heap on the passenger side. Jack checked their pulses - they were still alive. Jack went to the house to find Leslie, his doctor daughter.
Jack Crichton finished putting Katie to bed. After the days' events, it took some doing. Jack looked out the front window, and saw two cars watching their house. Jack wasn't sure that doubling the number of agents would make a difference. Jack walked into the kitchen, where all the adults were gathered around the kitchen table.
Leslie said "Dad, I just heard from the hospital. Agents Watson and Kowalski will be fine, they'll be discharged tomorrow. Someone slipped knockout drops into their coffee. There are no long-term or harmful effects of this particular drug."
Mike, standing behind his wife with his hands on her shoulders, added "It's been investigated already, and a maid from their hotel confessed that she switched their Thermos. She says a man gave her a twenty, but she only thought the new Thermos had Irish coffee in it - not drugs. She thought it was all a practical joke. She's very upset about the whole thing."
"She's upset? They tried to take Katie!" Jack said, louder than he meant to. Jack paced back and forth. "Hell of a lot of good round the clock protection does."
"We need to find out who 'they' are," said DK. "I'm guessing Simspon has something to do with this. Two men - sounds like the same guys - tried to question Sarah Jane and Lisa at their apartment today. They said they were from the government, but refused to show any identification. Sarah Jane called the police, and they left. Sounds like it happened just before they got to you and Katie."
Jessica asked "So, who do we call if we think a member of the military has overstepped his authority? The Pentagon? I think they'll give us the runaround."
"Well, there's always the Commander-In-Chief," Jack said as he picked up the phone and began to dial.
ISS - Communications Room
Toshi had spent the better part of an hour putting in the request to speak with the President. He spoke to one lieutenant after another; each asking more questions than they answered. And the questions themselves grew more bizarre and paranoid. Toshi played dumb, and was very glad he didn't tell anyone that Brigadier Sun was aboard the Space Station.
"No. Lieutenant, I do not think that Crichton's mind has been taken over. Yes, I think he's telling the truth. No, I don't think the Alliance wants to invade Earth. No, I don't think he's a clone or a robot or an alien look-alike.
"What I do know is that Ambassador Crichton has requested to speak to the President. Will you please patch me through to the White House switchboard?" Toshi was losing track of how many times he asked this question, and how many different people he said it to.
Toshi thought of a new tact. "Well, if you're not going to patch me through to the White House, how about the State Department? An ambassador wants to speak to the President - this is a diplomatic request, and should be sent through diplomatic channels. How about it?"
On the videophone, Toshi could see a major speak to the lieutenant of the moment. At first Toshi was hopeful - maybe the major would approve the call to the White House, or at least the State Department? Toshi was about to ask, when he saw the major hit a series of buttons and switches on the console in Mission Control, then the screen went blank. "Son of a bitch!" Toshi yelled. He tried everything he could think of, but couldn't resume communications. "They cut us off - on purpose! Gotta tell John," Toshi said to himself as he ran to the lounge.
Toshi opened the door to the lounge, then closed it quickly when he saw the pile of black clothing on the floor. "Gotta remember to knock," he said to himself as stood in the corridor. He was grateful that John and Aeryn hadn't noticed the brief intrusion. Toshi hesitated, then hit the intercom button for the lounge. After a brief pause, Toshi heard John say: "This is not a good time for an interruption, Nakahara."
wanted to remind Ambassador Crichton that the bench pulls out to a full-size
bed, in case you wanted to, um, take a nap," Toshi said, then turned
off the intercom and walked down the corridor.