A Taste Of Tomorrow
(First posted March 20, 2003)
Rating:  G.
Category:  Resolution Fic.  I claim no special insight into Farscape.  This is merely one fanfic writer’s vision of a
possible resolution to the ending of Season 4.  I would like to state for the record that with the exception of the
beginning of Part 1 (transitioning from the ending of ‘Bad Timing’ into this story) that I dreamed up this story
before anyone saw Episode 4.22.  Angel will testify that I came up with the plot idea on my own.  All I can say is
that maybe I was channeling DK a little bit that day.
Disclaimer:  The characters and vision of Farscape belong to Henson, Co.  I have made no profit from their
creation, and I hope they’ll have a chance to bring them out to play some more sometime very soon.
Time Frame/Spoilers:  This story takes place immediately after Ep 4.22 - ‘Bad Timing’, and contains a liberal
smattering of spoilers from ‘Premiere’ right through to the end.
Beta-Reader:  Angel -- The UK Goddess of Beta-readers.  I can never repay her for the volumes of input over
the past months, and or compensate her for lending me the benefit of her keen eye for typos and those pesky
grammatical errors.

Warning:  Have Kleenex by your elbow.

*  *  *  *  *

Prologue

As a species they were almost older than time itself.  In their youth, the separate entities known as individuals
had once wandered an entirely different realm than the one they inhabited now.  They’d traveled from one
planet to another in ships constructed of poured and cooled metals encasing atmospheres that would
safeguard the fragile solid vessels that they had called ‘bodies’.  They retained some vestiges of those bodies
to this day, a reminder of everything they had been and all that they had become, but the group of energies
who knew themselves simply as The Gestalt no longer required collections of solid matter in order to survive.

There had been a name for their species when they were younger.  Then they had found a new realm, the one
where they now resided, and had disappeared from the universes where other beings might interrupt their
evolution.  Over the eons, the label describing who they were had faded along with the knowledge that they
ever shared tangible space with other species.  The few individuals who knew of their existence referred to
them simply as the progenitors, and were careful not to disturb their carefully maintained realm or draw their
attention.

Then came a small ripple, traveling across realms, realities, and universes alike -- the vibration transmitted
through the nearly impenetrable membranes between each state of reality, and they took notice of the source.

“He received warning,” the collection of ageless mentalities agreed.  They watched with dismay as a fragment of
The Gestalt sheared away, spun into random collections of charged matter, and was lost forever.  They had
survived in this one condition for millennia, and were perturbed that a portion of their awareness must be
diverted to adapt to the loss.  Another nearly infinitesimal vibration rocked their realm, and then another, and
they were diminished yet again.

“The outcome of these disruptions must be considered,” they determined, and let their combined awareness
spin out along the threads leading into the future.  They found extinction waiting for them, their realm shattered
along with countless others by the increasing intensity of the shockwaves coming from a single source, and
they decided that it could not be allowed to happen.  One was selected and transformed, the second of his kind
to take on a mortal exterior.  He stood before them on two legs in order to be inspected, and they contemplated
the limitations inherent in his predecessor’s abilities.  More was required of this one, so they expanded his
abilities.  Endowed with nearly the entire knowledge of The Gestalt, he trembled for a single moment with the
importance of his task, then swore himself to the survival of his makers, and was sent forth to prevent the
catastrophe of termination.

*  *  *  *  *

Part 1

John Crichton closed his eyes, breathed in the heady scent of everything that was Aeryn Sun, and
concentrated on three things:  the sensation of her lips against his, her body pressing warm and firm against
him, and the knowledge that she would have married him if they had lived longer.  He devoted one brief
moment to worrying about what would become of the others, and then focused on Aeryn and everything that
had happened over the last arn.  She loved him, she had agreed to marry him, and she was pregnant with his
child.  The future had held so much promise.  It didn’t seem fair.

A double pang of regret tightened his throat and brought a sour bitterness to his mouth, drowning out the more
pleasant taste of Aeryn Sun.  He hurt once for the loss of everything that the last arn had finally brought to him,
and he hurt a second, more intense time because the next few microts would very likely see the termination of
three lives instead of two.  They were a family in that brief instant, and they would die together.

“I love you,” he said.

The only thing that seemed right about his life at that moment was that Aeryn was with him, and that they loved
each other.  He was enveloped in searing light and heat, the pain transmuted to something else almost before
his body could register that it hurt, and then everything was gone, and he had only a split-microt to wonder at
the sensation of being dead.

“This is going to work!” he said, the sense of triumph drowned out under a flood of relief.  Earth would be safe,
and they had a chance of getting Pilot back to be reunited with Moya.  He braced himself in the seat of the
transport pod and watched the fluctuating displays charting their course as they fled before the hungry throat
of the collapsing wormhole.

“Scarrans!” Aeryn warned him.

The collision with the scarran ship was unavoidable.  There was nowhere else to go within the tight confines of
the wormhole, both ships limited to the center of the undulating funnel.  He was aware of Aeryn’s body tensing
next to him, tried to fling one arm up in a futile attempt to protect himself from that devastating impact … and fell
over backward into a heap of snow.

Crichton scrambled onto his hands and knees, nearly lost his balance a second time, and came to his feet in a
flurry of action.  Whirling around, assessing his surroundings and looking for threats, he snatched Winona from
her holster and tried to make sense of what had just happened to him.

The iceberg floating in the midst of a sea of wormhole openings was unpleasantly familiar … identical to one he
had stood on barely half a cycle earlier.  John swung around a second time, the pulse pistol leading the way,
only to conclude that it was the very same iceberg or at least identical to the first one.

“What the frell …” he began angrily, talking to himself, then spotted the calm figure standing to one side.  
Empty eyes, dark suit, but younger this time, the being he’d known as ‘Einstein’ waited for him to calm down.  
“What did you do?  What happened?” John demanded.  “I died, but I didn’t.”  He thought about what he’d just
experienced, and found the first memory already fading, as though it had never happened.  “Where’s Aeryn?”

“The transport pod was destroyed in the impact.  Those remaining aboard were killed,” Einstein said calmly.

“No!  We got back to Moya and reattached Pilot.  Aeryn told me …”  John shook his head and tried to
remember what had happened next, the images slipping away faster than he could snatch at them.  There’d
been … a boat maybe … or maybe not.  It had all been clear a microt earlier.  “I remember sitting with her
somewhere.”

“You experienced an echo of what might have occurred if we had not extracted you from the moment in the
wormhole,” came the enigmatic explanation.  He watched without any outward reaction as John continued to
stride back and forth, pulse pistol still in his hand but hanging at his side now.

“You just claimed that everyone died on the transport pod,” John argued.  “Last time I checked, I don’t get to
die twice …”  He paused, considering his statement.  “Or maybe I can, but not like this!  I die in the wormhole
and then again … did I die a second time?”  He frowned, more confused with every passing moment, and
jammed his weapon into the holster with a hard slap.  “What do you want this time, and what did you just do?”

“If you had remained on board your transport pod, the added mass of your body would have provided sufficient
integrity to allow your craft to pass unharmed through the partially phased state of the other ship.  There would
have been a different future for you and your companions.  You experienced some residual awareness of that
invalid reality in the moment that you were brought here.  The memory will disappear quickly, leaving only a
vague sense of what might have been lingering on something less than a subliminal or instinctual level.”  
Einstein moved for the first time, taking two steps toward Crichton.

“Aeryn and Pilot are dead because you nabbed me?!” John yelled, immediately distraught.  “Get my ass back
there right now, Albert!  Enough people have died because of me already.”

“There is a matter to be discussed before that can be done.”  The depthless eyes stared at him.  “You were
shown what could happen if you continued to travel through wormholes.  It was expected that you would
safeguard the knowledge, not continue to use it in a manner that now jeopardizes countless realms.  I have
been sent to rectify the situation.”

John took several fast steps away from the other being, the fingers of his right hand returning to rest on the
butt of the pulse pistol.  “I’ve been doing the best I can.  I screwed the scarrans and the Peacekeepers don’t
have the technology either.  At least not so far.”

Einstein tilted his head to one side, considering the claim.  “True.  However, you use it to your own
advantage …”

“Saving my home planet is not to my advantage!” John snapped.  “You can’t expect me to let the scarrans frell
over my species.”

“The repercussions from what you did have been felt across dimensions that your brain cannot even
comprehend.  If we allow you to return to your reality without making adjustments, the outcome will be horrific.  
The ripples will become more violent as they spread, until …”

“I remember what big brother told me; you don’t have to go back over it again.”  John made a fast circuit of the
flat snow-covered area that served as their meeting place.  “Let me go back and save the others, and then I’ll
come back and we can work this out.  Put me back in the transport pod …”  He glared at Einstein as a different
thought occurred to him.  “How did you get me out of there without bringing the others along in the first place?”

“A task of greater importance merits greater resources,” Einstein explained.  “My predecessor’s task was
evaluation with either execution or education as an outcome.  This situation requires greater effort to determine
a resolution, therefore I was endowed with additional capacity.”

“They gave you the Tom Mix decoder ring this time.  I’m happy for you.”  John peered over the edge of the
mass of ice, examining the snarl of wormholes no more than two motras beneath where he stood.  “Aeryn and
Pilot shouldn’t die because of me.  Let me go fix that, and then I’ll give you all the time you want to work this out.”
“Time is the one thing you no longer have,” Einstein refused.  “The outcome here will resolve their ultimate fate.”
Crichton turned to look at him, his expression becoming more wary as the cryptic answers combined to create a
single message.  “You’re here to kill me,” he realized.

“Yes.”

“Damn it!”  Snow showered in all directions as John kicked at a frozen hummock, battering at it in anger.  “You
have got to let me make sure the others are safe first.   Chiana’s blind, Moya needs a pilot … Aeryn … she’s
pregnant.  Not both of them!  Don’t make them die because of what I’ve done.”

John turned from one side to the other, desperate to get back to his life in order to keep the others safe.  But
there was no way out of his surroundings unless Einstein permitted him to leave, and he knew it.  The sense of
futility began to mount, until he was on the very of a physical explosion.  He fought it back down, and forced
himself to think, searching for some argument that would give him the freedom necessary to look out for his
friends.  Three fury-propelled circuits of the small iceberg did nothing to ease his frustration, but the physical
outburst seemed to free a thought.  “Why bring me here?  You could have killed me without going to this
trouble.”

“There is another choice,” the new Einstein offered.

“Can’t think of too many things worse than death,” John answered hesitantly.  “Why wasn’t this behind door
number one?”

“You may choose permanent incarceration.”  The offer was made with no more emotional content than if he’d
just announced that ice was cold.

“Permanent?” Crichton questioned.  “As in fling me in the pokey for the rest of my natural life?  Any chance of
parole for good behavior?  Maybe you could commute the last few years of my sentence if I don’t touch
wormholes for the next forty years.”

“Permanent,” Einstein repeated.  “It will require that you enter a wormhole of our selection.  It will be collapsed
from both ends leaving a bubble spanning approximately one of your arns.”

Crichton stared at him in shock.  “And then what?”

“And that will be all that exists for eternity.  The realities realized by your absence after that moment will
continue, those that include your presence will discontinue.”  Einstein stood without moving, giving John time to
consider the proposition.

“Spend eternity in a single arn?  You’ve got to be kidding.”  Einstein merely stared at him.  John tried again.  
“Humans can’t stand that kind of tedium.  I’ll go insane.  It would be like watching the same hour of the Three
Stooges for the rest of my life.  Funny the first time, painful the hundredth, and I’ll be a blithering idiot by the
thousandth.”

“The interval will be suspended from the normal laws of time,” Einstein explained, indicating a sphere with his
hands.  “It is not a cage but rather an exception to the laws of time and space.  You will remember nothing of
the previous or following moments, nothing of the earlier repetitions.  There will be the knowledge of what is
happening in that period of time and nothing else. No past, no future.  You must chose carefully, for your
existence will be only the emotions and sensations of that one portion of your life.”

Crichton stalked to the edge of the iceberg and stared into the darkness for several microts.  “This isn’t a
choice!” he objected violently.  “There’s got to be another way to set this right.  If you can pluck me out of time
and allow everything to correct itself, there’s got to be another way.”

“You are the critical variable.  Your presence is disruptive and must be adjusted.”

“Adjusted,” Crichton repeated sarcastically.  “You’re the ones who adjusted me!  This wouldn’t even be
happening except for what you guys stuffed in my head!  Take me back to that day, and don’t do it this time
around.”

“It will not change the outcome.”  Einstein continued to stand as though frozen by the cold of the ice
surrounding them, empty eyes watching as Crichton strode around the small landscape, kicking at projections
of ice.

“I told your big brother that I wanted this out of my head.  Get rid of it, and reset things.  I’ll take my chances
without it.  We can run like scared rabbits this time around -- miss the catastrophes.”

“That will not alter the outcome sufficiently,” Einstein reiterated.  “There are only two choices.  This has been
studied with great care.  We are not arbitrary in our determination.”

“Death then,” John snapped hurriedly.

“That is your choice,” the being agreed calmly.  “However, before you make that your final decision, allow me to
show you the outcome.”

Galaxies spiral before his perception, thousands of solar systems spinning within the bright congregations of
matter and energy.  He encompasses an area of space that his mind can scarcely comprehend, and sees all
that occurs within that expanse.  Cycles flick by like microts, a fast-forward version of the future, and he
struggles to catalog the events.  Wholesale slaughter of species; planets and solar systems lie shattered.  
Debris spirals into curled patterns that hide the detritus of civilizations.  A single form of life stalks the universe,
breeding, expanding -- destruction trailing in the wake of its expansion.  Few survive.

“Whoa,” John muttered, staggering slightly as he returned to the limited perception of the iceberg.  “Nice trick.  
How do I know if you’re telling the truth?”

“What would prove the veracity of my information?”  Einstein cocked his head to one side, puzzled by the
accusation that he was lying.

“What happens to Aeryn if I let you kill me?  Will she still die in the wormhole?”

Einstein stared at him for more then ten microts before answering.  “It would not be necessary.  The outcome
could be adjusted, but you will not consider the alternative more desirable than her immediate death.”

“Show me!” John demanded.  “And I want to know what would happen to the others.”  He swallowed hard
against a lump in his throat, and braced himself for another of the fast shifts in awareness.

She stands in his empty quarters, tears streaming as she carefully pulls the ring from its case and slides it onto
her finger.  Time flicks forward, events flashing by in hurried succession.  Pilot is reunited to Moya, the
leviathan finds a watery place where she can heal more quickly, and Aeryn goes out upon the water in a small
boat to say goodbye to the man who simply disappeared in the wormhole, his atoms dispersed before her eyes
as they passed through the scarran ship.  She will grieve and go one, because she carries his daughter, and
there will be a small Crichton in her life before the cycle is over.

An alien ship swings in low, a beam of energy envelopes her, and microts later the boat is filled with nothing but
fragments.  D’Argo screams in anguish at the second loss of the day, and time moves forward at a greater
pace, revealing what no one aboard the healing leviathan will ever know.  It was subterfuge, a trick to hide the
fact that she’d been abducted.  The alien ship runs, and Aeryn Sun goes with it, no one aware that she needs
to be rescued yet again.

A sebacean woman dies alone, taken apart bit by bit for study, and the fetus dies with her.  A young nebari
never regains her vision, but slowly learns to wield a new type of sight, one that taps into portions of her brain
that were never meant to be explored.  Without the glimmers of hope and love that were one person’s special
gift, she never learns to handle the darkness of either type of vision, sinks into depression, and eventually goes
insane.  They leave her alone for one arn too long, and she pours out her life into a blue lake of blood.  The
luxan grieves, looses his tenuous hold on his temper one night, and gives up his life in a shabby bar when his
opponents gang up to stop the warrior’s grief-driven rampage.

The leviathan wanders aimlessly with her reduced crew, and is recaptured by the Peacekeepers.  She keeps
her vow that she will never wear a control collar again, and starbursts to her destruction, taking everyone
aboard with her.

“Stop it!  That’s enough!  You’ve got me convinced,” John protested, brushing at the side of his head with one
hand as though it would banish the horrific images.  “Shut it off.”  He made a slow journey around the outer
edge of the floating platform of ice.  “Let’s have the Monte Hall summary of what’s behind door number two.  
What if I chose the eternal exile route?”

“Each moment in your life has the potential for a different outcome.  I have been provided with sufficient
resources to allow you to examine all options carefully before choosing.  We are not capricious.  We only seek
to acquire a solution to the dilemma.”  Einstein took three measured steps to a hummock of ice, and sat down,
sitting rigidly as though perched on the edge of a hard chair.

“They say you’ll get hemorrhoids doing that,” John murmured, glancing at the other being’s choice of seating.  
“I can’t believe I’m actually considering this.  How do I describe what moment I’m thinking of so you can see it?”

“You need merely envision yourself in that moment.  Your knowledge of the stream of time is sufficient to begin
the process.”

John considered the cycles he’d spent in the Uncharted Territories, and chose one of his favorite moments at
random.  He closed his eyes and imagined the tight confines of his module, replaying in his mind the warmth of
her body so close to his, and the light scent that had distracted him from what Aeryn had been trying to teach
him that day.

“Personal indulgences can fracture a small crew,” she warns, looking at him over her shoulder.

“I would never tell them you scented your hair,” he says softly, leaning closer to draw in another lungful of the
thought-destroying aroma.  He’s kissed her before, but the first touch of her lips is like nothing he’s ever
known.  It is Aeryn making the first contact this time -- her lips soft, questing, spinning every one of his thoughts
into an airy foam of confusion.

John Crichton never returns from the Royal Planet.  No one returns to Moya.  Their bodies are added to the
pyres of offworld dead.  Spirited away by Scorpius before the Empress’ vengeful slaughter begins, the Regent’s
still-frozen head becomes the centerpiece of a new line of Peacekeeper weaponry.  The luxans are brought to
heel first, followed by the hynerians once Bishan is cowed by a demonstration of the weapon’s capacity.  A star
here, a planet there, and finally the Peacekeepers are ready to face the scarrans.  But they’ve taken too long,
and the scarrans have found new weapons on their own, equally as fearsome.  Four centuries of warfare later
the slaughter and destruction still rolls on, migrating across the universe until the fastest ships cannot carry
enough fuel to traverse the wasted expanses.

The scarrans learn how to breach the barrier to another realm first, followed within solar days by the
Peacekeepers, and the holocaust continues, rolling across myriad realities.

“Oh great.  That was even worse than just killing me!  This isn’t Let’s Make A Deal, this is the intergalactic
version of the Ben Hur chariot race.  There’s nothing but dead bodies and wreckage at every corner.”  He
paced to one side then returned to lean against a tall outcropping of ice.  “You choose.”

Einstein turned stiffly on his icy seat, watching Crichton’s migrations.  “I cannot.  Choice enables alternative
permutations.  It must be a moment that you select.”

John searched back through the cycles, his efforts disrupted by the frustration and anger over the decision he
was being forced to make.  He seized on a moment similar to the first one he’d tried, but with a different type of
ending.  “Try this one,” he ordered.

He sits in his module, but he’s facing backward, working at connecting new circuits into the rat’s nest of power
lines leading from the biomechanoid power cells.  Aeryn is no more than four motras away, pumping out tricep
extensions as if she’s just getting started.  She’s been exercising for a couple of arns, and what bothers him
most is that he hasn’t been able to catch her so much as sneaking a peek at him.  She’s barely spoken to him
since they got back from the planet, giving him a cold shoulder that would sink the Titanic.

He attempts a conversation anyway, hoping to break through the icy shell.  “Zhaan said the surgical
reconstructors did an excellent job on your leg.  There’s no sign that it was ever broken.”  Aeryn pumps out a
few more reps without responding.  “Yeah,” he adds, uncomfortable with the silence.  “I was … worried about
you when you didn’t show up for the wedding.”  He trails off, knowing that she doesn’t want to discuss his short-
lived marriage to Katrala, then tries one more time because he doesn’t like this silence between them.

“Anyway, I’m … I’m just glad you’re okay.”  It’s more than glad; he’s incredibly relieved that she hadn’t been
permanently injured.  She could have been killed in the fall.  “And I have noticed that you’re not talking to me.”  
He gives up.  She’ll have to get over it in her own way.

He hears a small sound and glances up.  Aeryn is approaching the way a frightened animal approaches a
strange object, one careful step at a time, one of the small vials pinched between thumb and forefinger.  
Microts tick by as he waits, as she hesitantly pulls the stopper loose, as she places a drop on his tongue, her
tongue, they touch, and then they kiss.

The various streams of events flow, intermix, roil and flood through space.  He lives on forever in the moment
when their lips meet, but John Crichton disappears from Moya before the kiss ever takes place, and the future
is altered by that single event.  Death, destruction, slaughter of millions … this time it is the nebari who sweep
across space carrying devastation with them.

“A single smooch and I screw the universe,” John complained morosely, readjusting to the sensation of being in
the present.

“Try again,” Einstein suggested phlegmatically.  “The permutations are endless.”

“They certainly seem to be readjusting well,” Aeryn observed, watching D’Argo and Chiana walk away.

“Mmm,” he agrees wordlessly, considering the mismatched pair.  “Yeah, they say you have to walk a mile in
someone’s shoes to understand them.”

She gets up and wanders a short distance along the corridor.  “I certainly know what you were doing when you
were in my shoes,” she accuses him.

“Give me a break,” he mutters, still mortified not at what he had done, but that he had gotten caught.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” she assures him.  “You were in my shoes, I was in your pants.”  She looks back at him with
a degree of devious amusement in her eyes that he’d never expected to see coming from Officer Aeryn Sun.

Crichton laughs as he relives the growing realization and utter shock at what she was suggesting and bolts
after the smiling, fleeing figure.  But there’s the disembodying jolt, and he sees the consequences if he chooses
this moment in which to be incarcerated.  It is worse than the previous attempts, the slaughter more
widespread, and he watches as Earth burns, destroying every bit of life on his home planet.

Einstein watched unemotionally as John staggered for a moment, the possible outcome nearly exceeding his
ability to keep his emotions in check.  “Again,” the transformed being ordered.  John took a deep breath, and
tried another moment he could live with forever.

The storm draws closer, the rain pounding against the glass, and each bright discharge of lightning is following
by the sizzling crash that means the cell is almost directly overhead.  The house is close enough to Sydney that
the lights of the city cast odd myriad shadows across the walls, adding a touch of dreamlike surrealism to a
moment he’s dreamt about for nearly half a cycle.  Aeryn steps out of her the last piece of clothing and turns to
look at him, unselfconscious in her nakedness, her stare inviting him to finish undressing.

Only two civilizations fall this time:  the beings from another realm who created the Ancients in order to watch
over the fabric of time and space; and the species occupying a solitary green-blue planet they refer to as
‘Earth’.  Only two species this time, but in the process, the knowledge to control wormholes spills into the hands
of three different races.  They bicker over the newfound capacity for no more than half a cycle, then form an
alliance, and enslave trillions.  Misery, squalor, hunger and suffering become the norm.

“That didn’t work out so good either,” John said as the future-vision ended.  “Might be a good thing.  That
particular event took more than an arn to complete and I’d hate to have it end just as …”  Einstein cocked his
head, waiting for the remainder of the sentence, the featureless eyes rendering his expression unreadable.  
“Never mind.”  Mildly flustered, Crichton tried again.

“Hi … my name’s John.”  The woman stares at him for a brief moment, giving him a look that he’d reserve for a
particularly repulsive bug, then takes his hand.  Slammed against the wall, kneed in the gut, flung, kicked,
flipped, and pinned to the floor, the prison cells spins around him, and he looks up into those blue-gray eyes
for the first time.

“What is your rank and regiment?” she demands fiercely.

Destruction.  The details vary, the outcome does not.

“This is the Irwin Allen version of ‘A Wonderful Life’,” John sighed, shaking his head and slumping down to sit in
the snow.  “I get the point.  Things are going to suck if I don’t do this correctly.  Show me the right moment, and
I’ll take it.  Let’s get it over with.”

“You must be the one to chose,” Einstein repeated his instruction from earlier.

John dropped his head into his hands, started with that first day, and tried again, and again, and again … all
without a glimmer of success.  Dozens of moments, small and large, yielded only more death.

“I’m running out of moments, Einstein.  This isn’t going to work.  How about you just nab me before I emerge
from the wormhole from Earth the first time?”

A half-mad leviathan with a Pilot gone crazy from unending pain is towed through space at the end of a tether,
dragged forward by three freighters.  She is empty of all but one lifeform -- the one within her womb.  They’d
found the shields, broken through them, and she bears the tenth of the hybrid offspring that grow to become
unstoppable weapons.  She is no more than a breeding vessel now, kept alive solely for the mutated genetics
within her.  The fierce Prowler pilot is dead, lost in battle.  The hynerian gibbers in his cell, broken at last by
torture.  The luxan was shot dead when he broke loose of his shackles, and the delvian is dead by her own
hand, the Seek permanently abandoned.  A young nebari lies in a mind-cleansing tank on her home world,
being prepared for her renewed roll in spreading The Contagion.  And in the space-black skies over an oil
covered moon, a wormhole blossoms and grows, flickers, and dies out, perfectly controlled by the genius in
black leather who commands a hidden Gammak Base.  Wormholes will be unleashed upon the universe within
a cycle.

“Fine.  That doesn’t work either.”  Crichton flopped over backward into the snow and stared up at the unbroken
darkness above the iceberg, ignoring the cold seeping into his back.  “What now?  No matter what I do, the
outcome is pretty much the same.  Do I pick the lesser of all catastrophes?”

“There are many moments you have chosen not to consider,” Einstein commented.

Crichton stared at him for nearly a hundred microts, working his way through the cryptic suggestion.  “Lock
myself up for eternity in a moment that I hate?” he asked, and received a dispassionate stare.  “You bastards
are sick.”  He turned away, bit his lower lip and tried to think of the least painful of all the worst moments.

“What does that taste like?”  “Yesterday.”  Time spools out before him, filled with options, life, growth, the rise
and fall of civilizations, but they all labor under the constant threat of the ultimate weapon.  Wormholes are
wielded by more than one species, the tenuous stalemate maintained over millennia.

“I can’t do that,” John objected.  “I can’t live in that moment until forever.”

“It is not your only choice.”

Another moment was chosen, the outcomes revealed, and the fragment of his life discarded by Crichton as too
unpleasant.  Then another.  And another.

“I get it,” he said morosely after more than a dozen tries.  “When things were the worst, I was always at a
convergence of possibilities.  Pull me out at that juncture, and the options open up.”

He ran his thumb along his lower lip several times, and drifted through his memories.  He considered an event
that had promise -- one when he came close to dying anyway -- and turned away, unable to bear the idea of
living until the end of time trapped in the arn during which he’d killed Aeryn.

Then he remembered another time when he’d lost her in a different manner.

Injured, Talyn starbursts first, followed microts later by Moya.  They flee in different directions, hoping to outrun
the retrieval squad long enough for the youngster to heal.  Aeryn has gone with the other one.  The copy has
taken Winona, his journal, and his clothes.  The copy has taken Aeryn.  Even more painful, he has to admit
that Aeryn has gone with the other John Crichton.  She has chosen to leave him behind.  D’Argo tries to
reason, then joke, then console him, but his sole wish is that he was the one who got blown up and was aboard
Talyn at this moment … with Aeryn.

The ribbon of potential twists and unknots, altered by the absence of a John Crichton aboard Moya.  His dead
body is left behind on Kanvia, murdered by what had appeared to be Rinic Sarova.  He dies mere microts
before the creature kills Rinic Pralanoth.  The dynasty is ended, the shape-shifting creature revealed for what it
is, and a grieving luxan returns to Moya with the blood of his dead friend on his clothes.  The last, frantic
communications between the two ships include the news that one of the Crichtons is dead, and Aeryn staggers
to one side of Talyn’s bridge and sinks to her knees in shock.

The cords running through space untangle, recombine, are braided into a new pattern.  Aeryn Sun, forever
wondering if her choice to leave the other one behind made him reckless, is more careful with the life of the
remaining Crichton.  She moves faster when she goes to check the defenses, returns in time to find Furlow
standing over Jack’s dying body, and kills the traitorous mechanic before she can steal the device.  There is no
mad chase, no accident, no release of radiation.  The displacement engine turns itself into useless slag and the
duplicate module is released on a trajectory that takes it into a sun.

The couple swears off wormholes forever.  They shun Earth, find Moya, and seek out a life together.  There
comes a time when Moya chooses to bear another offspring and gives birth to a healthy, unaltered leviathan
infant.  The crew grows, learns to wend a cautious path between warring factions, and accepts new members
into the multi-species family.  Their descendants travel the stars for generations.  The man and woman survive
hardship, fight when necessary, live for tens of cycles and grow old together.

The various realms survive.  Civilizations rise and fall, as they should.  Life goes on.

“That’s …”  John swallowed hard, trying to accept that Aeryn’s best chance for happiness lay with the other
John Crichton, not with him. “That’s a pretty good outcome,” he whispered, his voice thin and weak under the
burden of what he would have to do.  “Where would you have to pull me out of that mess?”

“At the moment your realities appeared to diverge on the planet,” Einstein replied.  “One end of the wormhole
will close from that direction, cutting you off at that point in your own reality.  The other end will contract to a
point approximately one or two arns after that.”

“No!” John yelled suddenly.  “No, no, no, no!  There has to be another way.  You cannot expect me to do this!”  
He snatched his pulse pistol out of its holstered and trained it on Einstein’s forehead.  “You put me back where
you found me, and give me a chance to work this out.  You could have prevented this when Einstein Sr. came
calling.  Live with your decision.”

The tirade was greeted with the same unemotional stare that had met every other one of his impassioned
outbursts.   The infinite eyes watched him without blinking until John finally lowered his weapon and jammed it
into the holster, his shoulders slumping in resignation.  “I’m not getting off this berg alive, am I?”

“Alive, yes.  To rejoin your life … no.”

John rubbed his face with both hands, then closed his eyes for a moment.  “Cake or death.  Man, I thought I
was an expert at losing, but I’ve hit the major leagues this time.  I either spend eternity knowing that Aeryn took
off with the other one or else I frell over nine tenths of the universe.  This deserves the Nobel Prize for lousy
choices.”  He walked to the edge of the ice platform and stared down into the swirling pattern of funnels.  “Is …
Is there someway I can talk to Aeryn one more time before I do this?” he asked slowly.  “One last time?”

“It is not possible.  Transcending space in that manner would destroy this fragile construct, and render
everything that we have done here irrelevant.  It could remove the potential for this single opportunity to
succeed from all possible realities, unrealized or realized.”  Einstein rose to his feet and went to stand beside
Crichton, waiting silently for his decision.

“What do I wear for this gig?  Could I get jeans and sneakers?  They’d be more comfortable for eternity.”  He
barked a short laugh, trying to make a joke of it.

“You will emerge into the reality of that time.  The apparel is predetermined.”

“I hate the green shirt.  It scratches.”  Crichton looked around one last time, stared up into the starless black
that passed for a sky, and then addressed a person who would never hear his voice again.  “Aeryn.  Wherever
you are … fly safe.  We never say this, but I think the time has come.”  John took a deep breath.  “Goodbye,
Aeryn.  I love you.”  His breath came in long shuddering sighs now as he fought back the despair.  “I guess in a
way, I’ll always love you, Aeryn.  Forever.”

When he looked down, the snaking patterns of wormholes had merged into a single blue funnel undulating
before his feet, beckoning to him.  “That’s the one, hunh?” he asked, hesitating.

“I regret that this is necessary,” Einstein said calmly.

“No, you don’t.  And this wouldn’t be necessary at all if some self-serving bastard hadn’t put the wormhole
knowledge in my head in the first place.  The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few.”  Crichton
shook his head.  “What a load of absolute crap.”  He took a deep breath, and jumped into the wormhole feet
first.  


                                                                           * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Click here to download a printer friendly version of this story.
<<  Spelling Lesson  <<                                                            Fanfiction Index                                                                    >>  Tough Love  >>
Click here to download a Kindle version of this story.
<<  Spelling Lesson  <<                                                                                                                                                             >>  Tough Love  >>