News travels fast in Tormented Space - slinking along the transit routes, alive and ominous like everything is out here - so it isn't two days after Crichton's disappearance before they encounter a Mahlee generational vessel drawn to the sector for rumors of strange aliens, shapeshifters from another realm. It does not take Aeryn Sun long to identify the Ancients, though long enough, and Scorpius forces himself to level his impatient breathing while the Mahlee confirm her suspicions and scuttle off in their great caterpillar of a ship to seek those beings they consider gods. Moya remains adrift.
"The Ancients won't hurt him," Aeryn says when the brain trust calls a meeting. "They never have before."
"First time for everything," D'Argo says, put off by her uncharacteristic cool. Noranti agrees with tea-tray eyes, but no one listens to her anyway.
Scorpius watches all this with a veneer of disinterest, but later, when Sikozu brings him his supper and sits on his cot licking her shiny lips and gazing at him with that seductive mien, he leans in close enough to hear her breathe and says, "We have to find him, of course."
He has given it quite a bit of thought, ever since the wormhole shut its maw, swallowing Crichton to the bowels of spacetime. For two days, Moya hung insensible in space, while D'Argo took short trips in his flyer and came home empty handed. Aeryn Sun learned the Human words for "love" and "loss," and used them awkwardly and interchangeably, communing with Moya from Pilot's den.
They don't get it, not yet. They don't know how he needs John Crichton, how heat and breathing aren't quite the same without his human. He won't say it aloud, but John is a mission now, his life's mission, his only mission, and there are no lengths to which he would not go to ensure John's safe return.
So he lays back on the cot, enjoying the view it offers of the gold-blue expanse of Sikozu's thigh under her skirt as she bounds from wall to ceiling and back again.
"I'll be glad to help," Sikozu says. Scorpius closes his eyes and thinks he's been here before.
He wakes up in his module, prowler coming at him full speed. Crichton slams down on the controls and they seem sluggish, different, but the engines do their thing and he sweeps across the prowler's nose, missing by a matter of feet. He spins the module, guns the thrusters, stops his drift. The other pilot's done the same, they hang there staring at each other.
"Hey," he says, tapping his comms, scanning for Peacekeeper frequencies. "You, out there, in the prowler, you just gonna sit there and look ominous, or what?"
The prowler doesn't move, and doesn't respond.
And then the port canopy's blocked by the arching back of a rising Leviathan, and the prowler turns to fire, and Crichton can hear radio transmissions in Sebacean, Peacekeepers shouting.
Crichton flicks the button, thumbs his way to Moya's band and hollers for Pilot, pulling back on the stick, but the prowler swerves to intercept him and tracks a couple shots behind him.
He dogs in close, hoping to psych the PK out of their attack line, but the prowler's faster than he is and pulls in front, crowds him back. Dropping for a direct vector, he does a fly-by over the Leviathan, and now two more prowlers show up to meet him over the curve, sending a wild barrage of energy pulses at the module and the great beast of a ship.
Crichton hollers for Pilot again, gets nothing, and spins the module again, pushes down on the stick again, throwing his module between the Leviathan and the angry prowlers. They close in behind him, and he jacks the nose and pours on the braking thrusters, falls back through the hail of bullets until he's next to the closest prowler, just a few feet from the hull.
The latecoming prowlers turn their attention to the Leviathan - it's Moya, he's sure of it now, he recognizes her curves and lumps and veins - but the one near Crichton stays on him, and he lets out a whooping shriek before hauling on the module's stick and arching back at two Gs.
He levels out, and the Leviathan's ablaze. Orange fire hiccups in a vacuum. His pulse thrums in his ears.
The prowler's overshot him; he pulls back on the stick, dives in tight against the first prowler, bellying down, pinning it between the module and Moya as they race back over the Leviathan's hull. He's close enough to see the rust on the prowler's bolts, close enough to see the licks of flame reflect in her viewscreen. Then only space beneath then and he comes down, feeling the momentary shriek of metal on metal as the ships collide.
The prowler pilot's angry now. The ship loops T-over-A, thrusters bleeding to stand off nose to nose with the Farscape One, weapons trained on.
Through the viewscreen, Crichton sees Aeryn's determined face, and for a moment he thinks he's saved, but just the moment, before she flicks on her pulse cannon and blows him out of the sky.
"Where are you going?"
Aeryn's hand is on her holster, but she hasn't raised her weapon, not yet, and he finds that somewhat insulting. He continues toward Crichton's module.
"I said, where are you going?" she seethes, coming up beside him. "I know I promised you sanctuary here and I'll stand by my promise. But my protection of you ends the microt you attempt to leave this ship."
"My dear Officer Sun," Scorpius says, resting a palm on her shoulder. "Believe me, I'd like nothing more than to stay here and enjoy your hospitality. But I'm afraid my business takes me elsewhere."
Sikozu comes skipping in, bounding from ceiling to wall and back again. "It won't be easy to get you off Moya," she says, after a delicate three-point landing. "Me either, to be honest. I'm afraid they don't trust me much more than they do you."
She is fluent in Sebacean, but she speaks Scarran when she's with him, a characteristic he both detests and admires. He suspects she knows that, and suspects it gives her a thrill to see him cringe at her guttural Scarran epithets. When it serves his interests, he is sure to indulge her.
She stops when she sees Aeryn. "Oh."
"You understand this is thievery," Aeryn says. "That's Crichton's ship. You can't..."
"If you're feeling left out, you're welcome to come along," Sikozu offers amiably, and Scorpius holds his hands out too.
"No thank you," she says. "Now back away from Crichton's module and let's discuss this." Now she unsheathes her weapon, and Scorpius allows himself a twisty smile.
This close to Crichton's ship, this close to Crichton, he is invincible, and he can smell the human's sweat off the ship's hull and off Aeryn's thighs. They're too entwined, the three of them, and, when he looks at her, he sees John in her eyes. Tips his head, and knows she sees John in his.
"I'm sorry," Scorpius says, and the module door gives a hydraulic whoosh and swings open, and he slips inside. "I really must be going."
"Where?" Aeryn asks, as Sikozu ducks into the module beside Scorpius.
"To find Crichton," Sikozu says. "I'd think you'd support us in this."
"Scorpius!" The module doors close, and Aeryn's still out there, waving her pulse pistol, for all the world a mockery of the abandoned spouse. She backs off when the airlock seals, and Scorpius guns the engine and takes Crichton's module out into space.
"It's not..." He searches for words, blinks soulless eyes. "That's not the right one. Sorry."
She looks up at him, terrified. All black leather and fire and she's homeless, here. He smiles.
"So what do I do? Tell me what to do, I'll do it."
"I know you would," he says, gently, drifting further away. "But it's not for you to do."
It's war again, when Crichton comes back, a ground war, this time. He doesn't even have time for that exasperated sigh.
"Get down!" A Sebacean woman runs past, slamming her palm into the back of his head and dragging him with her into an alley. "Shh!"
"What's going on?"
She shakes her head, fear stretching her eyes to her temples. "Frell, they've got the city square. We have to get out of here."
"Peacekeepers?" he asks, but she doesn't seem to understand.
"You're a Peacekeeper? Tell me you've got room on your command carrier for me. I can work, I can..." He shushes her.
"No," he says. "Who's got the city? Scarrans?"
"What do you know about Scarrans? I can trade information, I don't have any money but I need to know where to go, I need to know where it's safe..."
He shushes her again, feels that ridiculous pang of altruism tug in his chest. "It's okay," he says. "Don't worry. I'll help you."
She collapses against the wall, and in the distance Crichton can hear firefights, the blast of pulse rifles, the quake of artillery. "It's useless," she says. "You say the Scarrans are here too, it's useless. We can't fight them both."
"I didn't say anything about Scarrans," Crichton says, and she gives him a narrow-eyed stare. "I mean, I did, but I was just asking - okay. Pretend I just fell off the turnip truck. What the frell is going on out there?"
"They opened the wormhole," she says. "They opened the wormhole and they just poured in on us before we even knew they were coming. It's the end of the world. We're all dead."
"Who?" Crichton is impatient now, another stupid world, another stupid war. "Who poured in?"
"Scorpius' army," the Sebacean woman says. "All those Leviathans. The Kalish. The Luxans. The Nebari."
"And just when I was enjoying myself, too," Scorpius hisses, arching his back against the block of ice. "Why have you brought me here?"
The hollow man shook his head. "It isn't right," he says. "Not the right one for Crichton, and therefore, not the right one for you."
"I beg to differ," Scorpius says, enjoying the chill in his veins. He hears the blue crack of ice under his skull. "Crichton was a means to an end. If I can achieve that end without him, so much the better."
The man sits down beside him, hand on Scorpius' shoulder. "It isn't true," he says. "You know as well as I. You've been here before."
"A dozen times. More."
"And you'll do it again," the man says. "You know how it works."
"A means to an end," Scorpius says, but the ice is cracking beneath him and he knows it isn't true.
"Scorpius!" It's Aeryn's voice again, over the comms, and he considers switching her off but Sikozu answers.
"You wouldn't fire on an unarmed ship, would you?" she asks.
"I won't hurt you," Aeryn says. "I'm coming after you in my prowler. I want to come with you. I want to - help you find him."
Scorpius smiles, lips tight over hot teeth. "Very well, then," he says, ignoring Sikozu's steely glare. He tries an approximation of Crichton's voice. "Welcome to the team, Aeryn."
For the first time ever, he wakes up in his own bed. He isn't even sure how he knows it's his own bed, but the carpet's familiar and that's his Floyd poster on the wall. He sits up, rocking his head on his shoulders.
He doesn't recognize the ring of a phone until too late, and the click of the answering machine makes him reach for a weapon that isn't there. Instead, he hears his own voice, chipper, announcing that he's not at home and would you please leave a message, then a beep, and then a brand-new female voice that he knows is familiar somehow.
"John? I'm at Ozzie's, Meredith's leaving but I was gonna stick around if you wanted to drop by for a beer. But, you're not there, so I'm just gonna -"
He dives across the bed and grabs the phone, shouts into it, too loud. "Aeryn? Aeryn?"
"What?" The woman giggles.
"Oh. Nothing. Sorry. I'm - I'm here."
"I'll alert the media," the woman says. "Want a beer? You're buying. Get down here in ten minutes."
He remembers where he put his keys, how to start his car, how to navigate the back roads of College Park and get on Route 1 and off it again, how to find Ozzie's parking lot and set the car alarm. He recalls the woman's voice, but he doesn't remember her face or her name.
He's not sure what he's hoping for, swinging open the door to the barroom and scanning the faces all turned to the Skins game on four TVs. Some sense of place, maybe, something in her face to tell him this is the answer, his travels are over, he's found the one called "home."
But a redheaded woman waves at him from a booth in the back, and she's not Aeryn, and he calls her "baby" because he's forgotten her name. She touches his hand, squeezes his knee, drinks from his glass and tells a story about a maternity ward.
He's gone before he finishes the second beer.
"You still owe me, don't forget," Scorpius says, lowering the Farscape into orbit around Dam-ba-da.
"I haven't forgotten," Aeryn says. "And if we do find Crichton, I will be again in your debt."
"As long as we're clear," Scorpius says. "Because later on, I might have something to ask of you."
He's screaming, he wants to scream, and it hurts like frell but Scorpius is watching, red-eyed and hungry, and Crichton won't give him the pleasure, and he stares and watches the images swim by.
"Your memory holds an impressive array of other races, Crichton," Scorpius hisses. "You're quite a well traveled spy."
"I...remember...THIS," Crichton growls, teeth about ready to jump out of his skull. "You're...not...gonna like the ending, Grasshopper."
"And why is that?" Scorpius asks, nodding at the tech to crank up the juice on this monster.
"Because..." Crichton breathes, trying not to watch his mother collapse. "Because...at the end...you...shrinkwrapped...piece of shit....you're my bitch."
The tech spins the dial and they're coming faster now, images upon images like brickbats, hammering into his brain, and it hurts so goddamned much he can't believe he lived through this the first time, can't believe he ever thought that Scorpius was anything other than undistilled evil, playing dressup with a Freddy Kruger mask.
A string of equations pock the monitor, and Crichton knows what comes next.
"Well, well, well," Scorpius says. "Our spy has an interest in wormhole technology."
"Right," Crichton says. "And you give me the little guy...and you...take a melon baller to my grey matter...and...when all is said and done...you're not any closer to wormholes than you are now....and you're still my bitch."
"Prescient, then?" Scorpius says. "I daresay you underestimate my resources."
Crichton laughs now, a good loud spit of a laugh. "Here..." he says. "You want...Gilina?"
She sprays across the monitor, all innocent and blonde and pixellated and for a moment he regrets his decision, but it doesn't matter now.
"Take her..." he says. "You do anyway. What-frelling-ever."
"A Peacekeeper tech?" Scorpius scoffs. "Insignificant. You can do better than that, my dear Mr. Crichton."
It feels so good to let go, and he breathes bactine-tinged air and for a moment the chair doesn't hurt anymore. His memories spill out like marbles, and he can't stop laughing.
Earth. Home. Dad. DK. Alex. Moya. D'Argo. Zhaan. Chiana. Jool...but that was, it can't be...Sikozu, Noranti, the command carrier exploding in a burst of light, Crais, Talyn...Harvey...the other John...Aeryn...
Aeryn, on a blanket of stars. Aeryn learning English, and laughing. Aeryn pregnant, Aeryn mourning, Aeryn dying, Aeryn holding her head and keening, alone. Aeryn reaching out a hand, and Crichton reaches up too, but the chair bites back.
He sees the woman in the Sebacean city, legs blown off, eyes rolled back in her head. Sees the woman at the bar in Maryland, climbing into a ship called the Farscape Nine. Sees Chiana, raped and bleeding, laughing, spitting blood. Sees D'Argo, wild with a gun. Sees the earth explode, a thousand thousand times. Sees Moya aflame. Sees Aeryn.
Aeryn fighting, Aeryn bleeding, Aeryn screaming for Crichton, Aeryn terrified, Aeryn in a thermal regenerative suit, Aeryn and Scorpius, side by side, asking forgiveness, Aeryn laughing at him, Aeryn furious, Aeryn turning on her heel and walking away.
He tastes the tears on his cheeks, and he can't breathe over wracking sobs. "Stop," he says. "Stop...this time...we'll do it differently. This time...Scorpius."
If Scorpius reacted to the images he isn't showing it now, and he turns to John. "You want to cooperate with me?"
"Yes," Crichton says. "Yes...if we can...I don't want...those possibilities."
"They're your memories, John," Scorpius says.
"No..." Crichton says. "Take...the wormhole technology...take it outta me...now. Maybe things will be different this time, maybe I'm supposed to be on your side. Maybe that's the only way."
"You can't do it, John," Einstein says. "Can't keep coming back here like this."
"I don't want it," Crichton says. "Enough. I won't go on from there. I won't let him do that to her."
"You think she needs your protection?" Einstein raises an eyebrow.
Crichton laughs weakly. "Heh. Fat chance," he says. "But I need her."
"And Scorpius, you think you can keep him in check?"
"Done okay so far," Crichton says. "I'll take my chances."
"Then find your way home," Einstein says. "I'm not being cryptic. I just can't give you any more information than you already have."
"Listen, buddy, I clicked my heels together and it ain't happening. I can't - I just can't see it."
"Try harder," Einstein says.
Everything. All he wanted and it didn't bring his mother back. He flicks the comms, calls the girls in, all three, just to look at. The grey one, the shiny one, the sad, soulful dark one, and the arching viewscreen of the Leviathan behind them frames a burning world.
"Earth, he called it," Scorpius muses.
"Erp," Aeryn says. "Yes."
"Shame they wouldn't join us," Scorpius says.
"They will in time," Sikozu says. "It's the way the universe works. Power fills a vacuum."
"All space is a vacuum," Scorpius says.
And it's only when he goes to sleep that he is able to remember Crichton's face.