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
Brigadier Aeryn Sun and General, Lord Crichton were once again in the much-modified Farscsape module, en route to the first meeting between the Alliance diplomatic delegation and the United Nations Representatives. John was surprised by the location; he assumed they would meet in the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Instead, he received instructions to rendezvous at the USS Ticonderoga, currently cruising in the Pacific Ocean. Aeryn had wondered at that as well, but Chiana had told them not to worry - she had a feeling the meeting would go off without any problems. Over the years, they had learned to trust Chiana's hunches and feelings; John had been one of the first to trust Chiana's sixth sense.
As they neared the aircraft carrier, John and Aeryn could see almost every crewmember on any available surface watch the long lost spacecraft land. Many looked on in disbelief, but most watched in awe. John landed the Farscape on the deck of the Ticonderoga and helped the beautiful Aeryn Sun out of the module. John idly wondered how long it would take him to persuade Aeryn to marry him. 'One step at a time, Johnny; don't rush her,' he told himself. Aeryn carried hypos with translator microbes for the Earth representatives.
"That's quite a large delegation," Aeryn said as they walked to the group of diplomats, including American President Lieberman, UN Secretary General Jackson, and British Prime Minister William Windsor. When the UK voted to abolish the monarch in 2005, Prince William surprised the world by going into politics, and surprised them even further by being good at it.
"And that's not even a representative from every country on Earth," John said as they approached. John shook hands with each member of the delegation and briefly explained the translator microbes. President Lieberman volunteered to be the first recipient; John quickly injected the rest of the delegation; and introduced Brigadier Aeryn Sun to the diplomats.
"And there's one more person who needs some translator microbes, Ambassador Crichton," President Lieberman said as he signaled to Jack Crichton. Jack had plotted and conned more than he ever had before in his life. He convinced the president that the safest place for both the Farscape and Moya's transport pod to land would be in the middle of an ocean, away from eyewitnesses, telescopes and cameras. And since they needed an aircraft carrier to land on, why not the Ticonderoga, where his son-in-law was stationed? And as long as they were going to the "Tico," why not let Jessica come along and see her husband, and introduce Lt. Commander Robert Jones to his brother-in-law John? From what John had told him about Rygel, Jack thought the deposed dominar would be proud.
Aeryn looked on as John and Jack greeted each other with bear hugs. Jack's hair was now completely white, and his face had a few more wrinkles, but other than that he looked the same as the alien Aeryn had met on the false Earth almost ten cycles ago. Combined with the many stories John told her about his father, Aeryn felt as if she already knew Jack Crichton.
After giving injecting Jack with the necessary microbes, John said "Aeryn! I'd like to introduce you to my father!" with great smile.
Jack's own smile mirrored John's. "The radiant Aeryn Sun needs no introduction, son," Jack said as he extended his hand toward Aeryn. "John has told me so much about you, Brigadier, that I feel as if I already know you," he said warmly.
Aeryn shyly shook Jack's hand and said "Likewise, Colonel Crichton, and please call me Aeryn." Aeryn then graced Jack with one of her rare 'I'm smiling just for you' smiles.
While she and Jack chatted, Aeryn heard a very pretty blond woman say "Johnny!" as she ran into John Crichton's arms. Aeryn hid her emotions very well; none of the diplomats knew that she was silently plotting this woman's death, whoever she was. How dare she embrace John like that in public. Aeryn's mind ran wild - had John met someone since his return to Earth? Was she so important to him that he arranged to have her brought here?
"Jessica! This is a surprise! Why are you on the Tico?" John asked the blond.
"Hey big brother! I just wanted to be the one to introduce you to my husband - he's stationed here," the blond woman said, as a lanky red-haired man in a green flight suit joined them. "Johnny, this is my husband Robert "
"You can call me Howdy - Jess is the only one who calls me Robert anymore," he said. He was obviously nicknamed after the "Howdy Doody" puppet show, and more obviously didn't like it but was resigned to it. After Howdy and John shook hands, John injected Jessica and Robert with microbes, then all three walked towards Aeryn and Jack. Aeryn was overwhelmed by a sense of relief. Aeryn tried to look as if she were paying attention to Jack, but apparently failed.
" And while I was on the moon, I was crowned King of Space, then I became lead singer of the Beatles when I got back to Earth," Jack said, trying to get a reaction out of Aeryn.
"Your family must have been very proud," she replied distractedly. Aeryn was busy berating herself for the episode of jealousy. She knew she could trust John. Aeryn didn't trust any of the tralks that surely threw themselves at him, but she trusted John.
Jack studied the pretty Sebacean woman's expression. "You are very protective of my son, Aeryn," Jack said. It was a statement, not a question.
Aeryn turned to look Jack in the eye and said: "Yes. John is very important to me."
"As you are to him," Jack said. Aeryn felt as if she had just passed a test.
The Crichton family reunion was cut short by the arrival of the transport pod. The long stairs had finally reached the deck of the aircraft carrier, and the Earth delegation gathered near them. Ambassador Ka D'Argo, wearing a crimson outfit and his Qualta blade, was the first to disembark. John and Aeryn observed the reactions of the delegates. Some inhaled sharply, others did a double take, but most were tactful enough to not visibly react to this very different new species.
"Big guy!" John said as he and D'Argo shook hands. "Welcome to Earth." John had taught each of them the Earth greeting the last time he was on Moya.
"I am glad to be here John, and more glad to see you again, Aeryn" the tall warrior said as he smiled tenderly at his old shipmate. Aeryn introduced D'Argo to the Crichton family as Pa'au Zhotoh Zhaan descended the stairway, resplendent in a light blue dress that billowed in the winds and a long vest the shade of lapis lazuli. For jewelry, Zhaan wore the customary gold cuffs bracelets and large necklace of an eleventh level pa'au. Even in the middle of two wars, Zhaan had slowly managed to arrive at the next level of the Delvian seek. Zhaan was sure the slow pace of her journey was the reason she did not fall prey to the madness most Delvians fall into during the seek.
"Hey, Blue! Great to see you again!" John said as Zhaan stepped off the last stair. They greeted each other in the Delvian manner: they clasped each other's faces with their hands, and touched right temple to right temple. They each had a very brief flashback to the time they shared Unity, then broke away from each other.
"I am so glad you finally found your way home, John," Zhaan said, then closed her eyes and turned her face to the sun. "And your planet has a lovely sun," she added with a devilish smile.
"C'mon, Zhannie - none of that! We don't have time for you to, well, 'sunbathe,' I guess we'll call it" John said as he looked up into the sky nervously.
"Don't worry, John - your sun isn't effecting me like that - I was just tugging your leg." The priestess replied.
John was relieved. "That's 'pulling my leg,' and good."
Zhaan next turned to Aeryn and said "Thank the goddess you are safe, Aeryn," as she placed her hands together as if in prayer, and bowed slightly, then said privately to Aeryn only "Have you finally told John?" Aeryn nodded in reply.
Again, Aeryn introduced the new arrival to Jack Crichton and Jessica and Robert Jones, as John greeted Rygel at the foot of the transport pod stairway.
Rygel had trouble breathing. John couldn't remember what it was called, but he knew it was a Hynerian reaction to feeling intense emotion. To put Rygel at ease as he steered his throne sled to the deck of the Tico, John said "Fluffy Buckwheat Spanky Napoleon XIV, it has been too long! Missed ya the last time I was on Moya - you were busy negotiating a peace treaty somewhere!" Rygel's throne sled was in front of John now, and Rygel regained his power of speech.
"Well, I knew my expertise and guidance would be needed here - a backwater planet with billions of you? You humans will need all the help you can get! Well, I'm waiting!" Rygel added huffily.
Puzzled, John asked "For what?"
"For you to shake my hand, what the yotz else? Can't you see I've been holding it out for this bizarre human greeting?" Rygel said. "Zhaan insisted I learn it before we landed."
Actually, Rygel's arm was too short - John didn't notice. "Oh, yeah. I forgot" John said as he gently shook the former dominar's tiny hand. Rygel then swept majestically to Aeryn and pretended he wasn't affected by seeing her again, either.
Aeryn introduced Rygel to John's family as John commed Chiana. "Where are ya, Pip? We're waiting on ya."
After only a few microts, Chiana emerged from the pod, and began to descend the stairway. John hadn't realized how much she had changed since she first joined Moya as a rebellious teenager all those years ago. Chiana had matured into a lovely, beautiful young woman with no small share of self-confidence. Where there was once blatant sexuality there was now a sophisticated sensuality. Chiana's hair was cut into a close-cropped, sophisticated hairdo. Chiana wore a three piece pearl-gray outfit: close-fitting, tapered pants, a matching tailored top (with the top buttons undone, of course), and a long duster, all made of something similar to shantung silk. Even her shoes matched the rest of the outfit. A long silver necklace was the only jewelry she wore. John heard a nearby seaman begin a "wolf-whistle" in appreciation, but a nearby lieutenant slapped a hand over his mouth and whispered "Do you want to cause some kind of intergalactic incident?"
Chiana was torn between making her grand, sophisticated entrance and her giddiness at seeing John again. As she passed the halfway point on the staircase, sophistication lost. Chiana did one of her amazing leaps from the stairs into John's arms. "Oh, Crichton, I'm so happy you finally made it home! I can't wait to meet your family and DK" Chiana said as John spun her around. Aeryn silently told herself to not be jealous. It almost worked.
"Great to see you again, Chi," John said as he put her down. "DK isn't here, but you can meet my Dad and one of my sisters and her husband."
"Aeryn!" Chiana said cheerfully and hugged her. Chiana then whispered to Aeryn "If you leave John again, it'll break his heart and I'll have to kill you," smiling.
Aeryn broke away from the embrace and said "Don't worry; it'll never happen," mentally adding 'you little tralk,' even though Aeryn knew she had no reason to be jealous, and that Chiana deserved better than that.
Chiana nodded in her quirky way and said, "I'm glad."
John introduced Chiana to Jack, Jessica and Robert. Jack said, "I'm so glad to finally meet you, Chiana. Both John and Katie have told me so much about you."
"I'm quite flattered, Jack" Chiana said. Next, Chiana and Jessica exchanged pleasantries. But when Chiana was introduced to Robert, she was transfixed. She stood with her knees slightly bent, her shoulders back, and her arms jutting out slightly. Chiana looked at Robert, gently swaying side to side, as if she were a snake charmer. Chiana tilted her head from side to side as she examined Robert's face and hair.
"What is it, child?" Zhaan asked
"His hair! I've never seen hair that color before! I've only heard of it in an old Nebari legend," she said to Zhaan.
"Chiana, you've seen red hair before - I've got red hair," D'Argo said.
Chiana shook her head "It's not as bright as Roberts; you're more like a strawberry blond." Both D'Argo and Robert blushed. Chiana turned to Robert and asked "Are you sick? Are those spots on your face a symptom of something?"
John, Jack and Jessica couldn't help but laugh as they saw Robert "Howdy Doody" Jones blush even more. "They're freckles, ma'am. They're just a variation in skin tone, I've had them all my life."
Zhaan could see how uncomfortable Robert felt and said "What legend would that be, Chiana?"
"Yeah, fill us in Chiana - I want to know if I'm married to a living legend!" Jessica said.
Chiana said "OK, but this is girl talk only," as she gestured for Jessica, Aeryn and Zhaan to join her away from the men. Chiana whispered something to the others, and they all laughed. "No, really!" Chiana said. As one, Jessica, Chiana, Aeryn and Zhaan looked at Robert, lowered their appreciative gazes to below his belt, then the three alien females looked at Jessica questioningly.
"I have no comment!" Jessica said with a smile as she walked back to her husband and placed a territorial arm around her husband's waist.
"Just one peak?" Chiana asked.
"Not a chance!" Jessica said, and sounded jovial, but there was steel in her eyes
Robert was embarrassed, and asked Jessica what Chiana had said.
"I'll tell you later, loverboy," she said.
John had finally gotten the Moya delegation through the Earth receiving line, and they entered the aircraft carriers briefing room to begin. D'Argo had briefed everyone on the most recent developments in the Scarran war, Zhaan had recapped what diplomatic efforts were being made to end the war (not much progress with the Scarrans, but more and more colonies and planets were joining forces against the Scarran threat).
Chiana had briefed the assembly on the particulars of the New Nebari Republic. After the Nebari Revolution, the NNR was formed, and they had turned extremely isolationist. The pro-isolation leaders claimed it was self-defense: there was so much anti-Nebari feeling after the Nebari War that many races hated all Nebari, not just the Establishment. Chiana and her brother Neeri , leaders in the movement to rejoin the Alliance to aid in the Scarran War, believed that by turning their back in the Territorial Alliance and their former allies in the face of the Scarran War, the NNR had fueled the anti-Nebari sentiment. Although the NNR wouldn't rejoin the Alliance, Neeri was given approval to form the Nebari Expeditionary Force, two fully equipped war cruisers and personnel that volunteered to fight the Scarrans. They have been serving with the Alliance forces for almost a cycle now.
Finally, Aeryn had briefed them on the Scarran wormhole technology and why she thought they might be heading for Earth.
"This has been a tremendous amount of information to absorb," Secretary General Jesse Jackson said to the assembly. "Perhaps we should break for lunch now." The motion was seconded and carried, and they made their way to the officers' mess.
Each delegation had arranged to bring food from their countries. Unconsciously, they all knew they were primitive in terms of science and technology, and wanted some way to impress the Alliance representatives. There was beluga caviar from Russia, Champagne from France, sushi from Japan, and on and on. Personally, John thought they should have had a full-blown Texas Barbecue for American cuisine, but was happy with the T-bone steaks that were served. Over all, John thought Earth did itself proud, until he saw Rygel take off in his throne sled. John and Aeryn looked at each other, then ran after Rygel.
"Where ya goin' Buckwheat?" John said as they followed him to the enlisted mess.
"Hold out on me, will you? I know delicacies when I smell them, and you humans are holding out!" Rygel yelled as he flew over tables of surprised sailors. Rygel arrived at the serving area, and almost dived into a serving dish.
"No one is holding out on you, Rygel. Stop it, you slug!" Aeryn said. Rygel was ignoring her. He was too busy gorging himself on what he considered a rare Hynerian treat.
John finally saw what the former dominar was eating, and laughed. "Listen, Sparky, that is not considered a fine dining choice in this planet. That's Spam!"
"What is Spam?" Aeryn asked.
"It's, it's, I don't know what it is, exactly. It's some kind of meat, or meat substitute." John couldn't finish. "It's a joke, really." John launched into song next. "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam!" He knew he shouldn't have done that, because now he'd have to explain "Monty Python's Flying Circus."
Aeryn looked baffled. "Please explain "