(First posted March 3, 2004)
Disclaimer: The characters and vision of Farscape are the property of the Henson Company. I have not
profited from my frequent forays into their world … except to set my imagination on fire.
Spoilers/Time Frame: Some time in late-Season 4 or early Season 5.
Betareader: Solo-effort this time around. All my own fault. *gulp* Written quickly, posted faster, with an
abysmal level of review. Forgive me … I tend to do this with challenges.
Kargack’s ‘Kansas’ Challenge: Kargack posted the following as a fiction challenge: “Remembering John's
comment about Aeryn staying a Nazi in 'Kansas', I thought of something that might make an interesting
challenge. After everything they have been through together, what happens when Aeryn learns about who the
Nazis were and what they did?”
There was some debate in the thread about how appropriate it would be to even discuss the atrocities
committed by the Nazis in a fanfiction, but when I finished examining my own opinions about it, I decided that the
value of remembering and learning from what happened during WWII outweighed the other considerations. I
apologize if it winds up sounding like a history lesson; I couldn’t find any other way to tackle the challenge.
Hope you find something here to enjoy.
* * * * *
By the time John Crichton managed to roll over on to his stomach and get his upper body propped up on his
elbows, the anger-laden pounding of Aeryn’s boots against Moya’s floors was no longer audible. He let his
head hang and didn’t bother trying to get to his feet. Hard-won experience told him it would be another
hundred microts or so before the sick-making buzzing in his head faded and the odd sparks stopped jumping
around his vision. Until then, getting to his feet only promised another impact with the floor. He inhaled
carefully, drawing a faint metallic tang into the back of his throat, and shook his head weakly. That scent was
sufficient to tell him what was going to come next. A microt later he was treated to the fast hot trickle that
refused to be stemmed by sniffing.
One droplet struck the floor with a quiet ‘blip’, followed by another, and then a pattering rain of blood.
“Crichton! What the hezmana happened?”
The fact that he hadn’t heard D’Argo approaching confirmed that he was still half-dazed, barely hanging on to
consciousness even though he thought he was alert. He took several deep breaths and his buddy stopped
disappearing and then reappearing in a new location. The floor spun beneath him several times, as though
Moya were doing donuts in an empty mall parking lot, and everything finally came to rest. The remainder of his
hearing returned at the same time that his vision cleared. The puddle between his forearms had expanded
while he was on his brief mental vacation.
“I got a new rule, D.” Crichton pinched his nose between his thumb and forefinger, trying to stop the bleeding,
and only managed to get a handful of blood for his efforts. He let go and eyed the bright streaks running up his
wrist with disgust.
“And that is?” D’Argo prompted. He caught Crichton under the arms and hoisted him up, stopping when he had
John on his knees in order to give him time to adjust to being upright.
“Don’t try to duck pantak jabs.” Moya made another slow revolution, this time flipping end for end. D’Argo’s
hands under his arms was the only thing that kept him from pitching forward. “Whoa. Aerobatics,” he mumbled
through a slurry of gore.
“You tried to go under the jab instead of backing away,” D’Argo said, confirming where the new theory of
hand-to-hand combat had gone awry.
“Yeah. I was a year too late and she got me right in the schnoz. I’ll take it in the jaw next time. Crap, what a
frelling mess.” Crichton slid out of his vest and pulled off his shirt. Wadding it up, he first mopped off his chin
and then pressed the bundled cloth against his nose. He motioned to D’Argo and a moment later he was on his
feet -- staggering and unsteady, but upright.
“What did you say to her?”
“Not a frelling thing. She did all the talking, bopped me in the snoot, and took off.”
“You said nothing.” D’Argo’s tone was a careful compromise between questioning John’s version of the
explanation and total disbelief. “Infirmary,” he added, tugging John in that direction.
John stopped dead in the middle of the corridor. “Aeryn went that way. I think she’s in the maintenance bay.”
They turned as one and headed in the other direction.
“You said nothing at all that would explain this,” D’Argo tried again.
“Well, nothing today. I may have let something loose about a half cycle ago that was a little imprudent. Let’s try
the Center Chamber.” Crichton eased his bloodied shirt away from his nose, sniffed carefully, and slapped it
back into place. “Maybe Nurse Noranti’s got something that can get this to stop.”
“Be careful she doesn’t do it by stopping your heart.”
“Good point. Finesse is not her strong suit with cures.” John stumbled, nearly tipped over, and was yanked
back on course by D’Argo.
“What was the small indiscretion a half cycle ago that resulted in this blood bath?”
“When we were on Earth the first time, I kind of referred to her as a Nazi. She finally found out what I was
talking about and got a bit ticked off.”
“A bit,” D’Argo mimicked again. John shrugged a non-committal response.
Together, they made the turn into the Center Chamber, and found it deserted. D’Argo steered a still-wobbly
Crichton to a seat, hovered until he got situated with the increasingly soaked shirt still in place beneath his
nose, and then began rummaging in the cold-storage unit. He held up a packet of processed melvak curds, a
normally gooey substance that turned into a thick gelatin when chilled. John nodded and he tossed it across.
The sealed packet got wrapped in a clean portion of the ruined shirt and cautiously pressed against the bridge
of his nose.
“Explain,” D’Argo ordered succinctly. “Why did it anger her and why did it take so long for her to react like
this?” He gestured toward the small crimson trickles streaking John’s bare chest.
“It’s tough to explain, D’Argo.”
“And you have somewhere else you need to be?”
Crichton sighed, and regretted it immediately. What little clotting that had occurred broke loose under the small
increase in pressure, resuming its previous flood-like volume. D’Argo tossed several meal-cloths in his
direction, and then sat down where he couldn’t see the results of Aeryn’s fast, punishing handiwork.
“I called her a Nazi without thinking, D. It was a military regime from my planet’s history that marched really
good and followed orders without question. On the surface, it was a decent parallel, and I …” He stopped and
“And yet Aeryn didn’t drop you like a bad rabbit when you originally said it.”
“Habit, D’Argo. Drop you like a bad habit, and it doesn’t usually refer to cold cocking someone.” Crichton
waited for the luxan’s quiet snarling response, then tried to explain how he’d wound up with what felt like a
broken nose. “I didn’t check over the video tapes she brought back from Earth. There’s a documentary series
mixed in with all the movies. It covers the entire Second World War, and I didn’t know she had watched it.”
“You are taking a very long time to explain this, Crichton.”
“And you have somewhere else you need to be?” John tossed a blood-soaked towel into the waste funnel and
replaced it with another. The cold packet of curds was pummeled into a better shape and once again carefully
pressed against his nose.
“I would prefer not to be here talking with you if Aeryn should return with a pulse rifle in order to finish what she
started. Facts, John. Give me the facts and then let me hide until she calms down.” D’Argo’s relaxed slump in
the corner belied his claim of fear.
“Funny.” Crichton tried to arrange the complexities of the world-wide conflagration into something his friend
would understand. “Okay. Aeryn watched the first part of the series, and thought that being called a Nazi was
an okay thing. They had spiffy uniforms -- some of the SS even looked a bit like the Peacekeepers -- they
marched great, and I have to admit that they did some good things for Germany’s economy in the early days.
So she didn’t have a problem with that part of it and didn’t feel the need to let me know that I’d screwed up.” He
waited for a response then continued. “Only a few days ago, she watched the remainder and found out that
the Nazis were murderers and butchers, and assumed that I was comparing her to that part of Earth history,
and … she got a little … ”
“Sebacean hyper-rage?” D’Argo suggested.
“Pretty pissed off,” John agreed.
The warrior straightened up from his nonchalant slouch and leaned forward where he could watch John’s
reactions. “But war means death. Aeryn knows that. Butchery is part of conflict. It doesn’t explain this.”
“They didn’t kill their enemies; they rounded up millions of innocent men, women and children, and slaughtered
them for no reason other than their religious beliefs, D’Argo. And the other nations -- even my own -- let it
happen. It’s one of the worst moments of our history.”
“At the battle of El’Adrek, luxan forces killed more than fifteen million of the enemy, John. Our armies did not
stop to determine if they were killing women or children or soldiers. This does not make it a crime. It makes it
war. Are you saying that I am some sort of monster for having taken part in that battle?”
Crichton freed one hand to scratch at an itch on his shoulder, and tried to sort out his thoughts. “Maybe I
ought to just show you the films. That would be easier.” But he didn’t want to sit through the nauseating
film-clips of the naked, emaciated bodies, or view the clear depiction of how cruel his species could become if
left unchecked. He tried again. “How many planets were involved in that battle, D’Argo?”
“Seven or eight. It is sometimes difficult to narrow it down to a number of planets.”
“All right. But more than one, right?” He waited for the expected nod and then waded slowly into the morass of
his own history. “This was just my own species -- just a bunch of humans treating other humans like trash.
There was a war going on, but aside from that, the Nazis rounded up every person they could get their hands
on that believed in one particular religion, and they beat and tortured and starved them to death, and executed
them by the millions. There have been other times when humans have killed other humans by the thousands,
but this was the first time anyone had created an entire industry around killing. They put in special railroad
lines just to take these people to the death camps, they built huge facilities to murder them and to dispose of
the bodies, they had special portions of their army that did nothing but kill the Jews --”
“Wait!” D’Argo interrupted. “These Nazis diverted resources to something that had nothing to do with waging
their war? You must be mistaken, John. That makes no sense. It promises defeat.”
“Thank you! I’m getting through.” John eased a towel away from his nose and nodded in satisfaction. The
bleeding had stopped. “By the time the entire mess was over, the historians figure that about 50 million people
died altogether. That’s starvation, bombing, disease from the breakdown of sanitation -- the entire cost of the
war. But the Nazis murdered six million Jews. That’s a tenth of the total, and when Aeryn learned that and saw
the pictures of what they’d done, that’s when she came looking for a little warfare of her own.”
“That’s not true. She became angry when she realized that you were a hypocrite, Crichton.” Rygel soared into
the center chamber. “I was watching your history with her, and I think she was very restrained considering the
level of hypocrisy.”
“What are you talking about, Buckwheat?”
“I have been listening, and you are lying, Crichton. You talk about how killing women and children should be
some sort of crime on your planet, but you don’t mention the explosive device your nation dropped on those
two cities or the thousands that died from radiation poisoning. You’re as bad as those Nassies you were talking
about. Your leader at that time --”
“Truman. Harry S.”
“This True-man was as great a butcher as Rygel the Ninth.”
“No! What Harry did was different.” Crichton was on his feet without remembering getting up, and felt very
much as if he’d been back into a corner even though he was standing in the middle of the Center Chamber. He
scrambled for an explanation that would sum up the horrible decision that had been made two decades before
he was born. “No, it’s different,” he repeated, still searching.
“Because you won.” Aeryn was there as well, standing in the doorway … fortunately without a weapon in her
John stayed on his feet, ready for a fast retreat if it looked like she was as angry as she had been when he had
run into her in the corridor earlier.
“Victors get to write history. At least the Peacekeepers started out with the right set of ideals, John. Your
species began its military history with hatred and cruelty on both sides.”
He fought a desperate rearguard action, searching for the facts that would demonstrate that they were wrong.
“No, we weren’t the same as the Nazis. Wait! Rygel! You told me about how the Charrids slaughtered your
people as a food supply. It took millions of hynerians sacrificing themselves to stop their attacks, you said.”
“Our lives were at stake. They never would have stopped,” the Dominar argued. “That’s different.” Aeryn and
D’Argo were nodding in agreement.
“No, it’s exactly the same. We dropped the bomb on the Japanese because it was going to take too many lives
to stop them. If you had sat down and said you didn’t want to fight any more, the Charrids would have kept
coming and every single one of your six hundred billion subjects would have been served up as Kentucky Fried
Hynerian before it was over. Right?”
Crichton didn’t wait for an answer. He launched in before anyone could add another factor to the discussion.
“The Allies -- call them the good guys for the sake of argument -- had lost tens of thousands of troops trying to
stop the Japanese. The killing was going on all around my planet by this time, and it had been going on for
over four years. It had to stop. If we said, ‘We’ve had enough; we’re not going to fight anymore’, they weren’t
going to stop. They were the aggressors. We didn’t want to do it, but our leader recognized that our country
was exhausted, and that we couldn’t go on letting our own men get killed to stop the other side. So we did
something we didn’t want to do. We showed them that if they didn’t stop fighting, we would destroy them
completely.” Crichton’s impassioned explanation came to an abrupt stop.
It was silent in the chamber for several microts, then Rygel asked, “You had the ability to completely eradicate
this enemy, and you didn’t?”
“That’s right. We just wanted them to stop fighting.”
“That’s incorrect military strategy,” the Dominar argued. “If you have the upper hand, crush them. You must
make sure they can never attack you again.”
“We helped rebuild their country,” John said, countering his assertion. Now Aeryn and D’Argo were shaking
their heads. He decided it might be a good sign, not a bad one. “And Germany. And all of Europe.”
“That’s insane!” Rygel blurted. “You do not expend all those troops and ordinance defeating an enemy only to
return them to a position where they can attack you again. Your entire species is either intellectually deficient
or totally fahrbot!”
“No, Fluffy, we’re compassionate. Most of the people who lived through that mess didn’t want to be at war -- not
even most of the soldiers. It was their leaders who had gotten millions of them into this horrible mess. The
Germans weren’t evil; it was their leaders who were sick and twisted. My country is way the frell over on the
other side of the ocean, so we were in one piece. We never got bombed or blown up. Who else was going to
put things back together? We’d already stood by with our thumbs up our butts and watched millions die. If we
hadn’t helped out, thousands more would have starved to death.”
Rygel was fingering one of his earbrows, looking skeptical, and D’Argo continued to shake his head. Only
Aeryn appeared to be considering his argument with any significant degree of interest. Crichton lightly fingered
his nose, testing for damage and checking to make sure the last trickles had stopped, and then pitched a
wadded collection of bloodstained towels into the waste funnel. “I need to get cleaned up.”
Aeryn had been standing with one shoulder leaning against the wall, listening without comment to his fervently
presented explanations. As John strode across the chamber, she pushed herself upright and stepped toward
him. He took a long, fast stride away from her, not sure whether his nose could withstand another assault. She
made a placating gesture with both hands and shook her head. Crichton sidled past her, still wary, and
scuttled into the corridor. She followed him.
“I may have misjudged the situation,” she said once they were out of range of the Center Chamber.
John recognized the apology for what it was, and produced an equally veiled peace-offer. “I probably shouldn’t
have called you a Nazi.”
“You definitely shouldn’t have ducked. How many times have I told you that you either have to slip a pantak jab
or back out of range?”
He smothered a relieved smile. If Aeryn was chastising him for allowing himself to get punched, it meant that all
was well. Peace, such as it was, had returned to Moya’s corridors, leaving only a swollen nose and the
possibility of two black eyes by morning as the only evidence that they’d managed to misunderstand each other
“If you wouldn’t throw pantak jabs when you get angry, I wouldn’t have to remember to duck, slip, fade, or run
like hell every time I see you coming.” They turned the corner into the section of Moya that they generally
referred to as Quarters. “I think you broke my nose.”
“I doubt it. I saw you start to move in the wrong direction and had time to pull my punch.”
His feet stopped, halted by shock. Aeryn sailed on ahead as though she had said nothing of importance. What
she had just admitted though, was that she had hit him on purpose. If she had time to pull the punch, then
Aeryn had time to miss him completely. She was that good, and he knew it. If she said she hadn’t broken his
nose, then it wasn’t broken. John turned away from Quarters and stared back down the corridor, trying to
control an upsurge of emotions. There was anger and depression and dismay, and something that felt like she
had just slashed him open from throat to navel. Cycles ago, he had come to understand that sometimes Aeryn
fell back on her old training when her emotions were soaring out of control. If it had been anyone else than
Aeryn, he would have long since delivered an ultimatum: no more hitting or else the relationship was over. But
Aeryn was a victim of her upbringing, and lashing out physically didn’t hold the same meaning for her that it did
This situation was different though. She’d deliberately and knowingly chosen to hit him. It didn’t feel like
something he could or should forgive.
“It was wrong,” Aeryn said next to his shoulder, startling him. “I shouldn’t have hit you.”
John walked away from her, unsure how to answer and still aching from the initial confession. His nose and the
entire surrounding portion of his skull was pounding unpleasantly in time with his pulse; it was a thudding,
constant reminder of what she had done to him.
“I know you don’t like it when I punch things,” she said. He hadn’t heard her moving up to stand beside him
again. “And you know I don’t consider it from the same perspective that you do. To me, it doesn’t feel any
different than sneezing.”
He walked back the way they had come, considering the situation. Aeryn hadn’t done much more than shove
him in the past several cycles. Most of the flying fists had occurred in their first cycle together, when she had
still be very much the Peacekeeper soldier. This was an anomaly … and yet she had deliberately hit him.
“You’re angry,” she said from two motras behind him. She had stopped following his faltering process.
“You socked me in the face, Aeryn. In my world, that’s not supposed to happen.”
“In my world, sebaceans don’t do to other sebaceans what your people did to their own neighbors. And we
don’t make the kinds of comparisons that you did.”
When John turned around, she was leaning against one of Moya’s thick internal ribs, her arms folded in front of
her, looking every bit as self-contained and in control of her emotions as the first day he’d met her. Her ‘tell’
was in the absolute stillness of her body. It was an admirable act, almost convincing him that she was calm, but
there was usually some sort of movement about Aeryn even when she was sitting at rest. Her body had a
natural, easy grace to it that always imparted some small motion, even if only a quiet twitch of an eyebrow. The
stillness this time was thorough, the result of exceptional effort. She was still furious.
“Sparky was wrong,” he said. “It wasn’t the hypocrisy that’s bugging you. It was what I said.”
“Rygel saw what is relevant to Rygel. Slaughtering millions isn’t a crime to a Dominar of the Hynerian Empire.
Neither is being hypocritical. Getting caught while being a hypocrite is unforgivable.”
Crichton considered trying to explain what he’d meant when he called her a Nazi, and decided that revisiting the
slip would be an exceptionally poor choice. Aeryn had watched the entire documentary. Trying to slide out
from beneath the full weight of what she had learned would be next to impossible.
“And what did you see?” he asked. It would be smart to make absolutely sure what was infuriating her before
he said anything else.
“That you thought I was capable of doing something like that to other people.”
The idea that his comment had created that impression caused him almost as much discomfort as knowing that
Aeryn had hit him on purpose. Something inside seemed to open up. It wasn’t insight. It was more like a
doorway that when fully opened would lead to a place where he might find insight.
“Do you understand that I don’t really think that?” he asked carefully.
“Do you understand that I didn’t mean to hit you?” she countered.
“You hit whatever you’re aiming for, Aeryn. You are the Sugar Ray Leonard of pantak jabs.” He corrected
himself before she could finish shaking her head. “You don’t miss and you don’t make mistakes.”
“Not this time. It was loose and uncontrollable before I knew what I was doing. And when I connected, it was as
if I had just become one of those Nazis, just as you had implied.”
This time he felt it as though it had happened to him instead of her. The twist in his stomach, the sharp
breath-catching dismay, the regret, the self-loathing, and the inward-aimed horror that maybe he was as bad as
the careless comment had suggested; it was all there. Aeryn had taken off even faster than usual. She’d been
halfway down Moya’s corridor before he’d even hit the floor. She hadn’t been walking away in anger; she’d
been running from what she’d just done.
John rested his hands on his hips and stared down at his feet, reflecting on how one careless remark had done
this. He really needed to learn to keep his trap shut, he decided, and knew down deep that he would probably
shoot his mouth off the next time, and have to reckon with the consequences just as he did here today.
“I wasn’t looking at it from your perspective when I said that,” he admitted at last. “I was smart-mouthin’ and it
probably got a bit out of control.” This time when he looked at Aeryn, she was swinging her head to one side
and back -- a small, familiar movement that flipped the few stray strands of hair over her shoulder. But she was
moving again, and that was the important part.
“Probably?” she asked with the first hint of a smile appearing.
He had been forgiven. It was his turn to walk away from the afternoon’s events. The angry, stubborn portion of
his personality spent several microts wrestling for control, and then retreated in a silent, jealous sulk. It had lost
to the stronger part of him -- the part that would always put Aeryn first. He turned toward Quarters, suddenly
very aware that he was both shirtless and mildly gory. “Are we okay?” he asked.
Aeryn took his vest out of his hand and slid her hand into place instead. “I’m okay if you’re okay.”
“I’m battered and bloody, but I’m okay.” They crossed the remaining distance to his cell in companionable
silence. Once inside, John surveyed the liberally applied smears of blood streaking his chest and hands, and
decided that taking a shower would be easier than trying to clean it up piecemeal. Aeryn waved the doors shut
and sat on the bed, watching as he unlaced and pulled off his boots.
“It will never happen again. I promise,” she said.
It was more than a promise. It was a vow. He knew all too well that Aeryn didn’t take promises lightly. She
hammered them into her soul like a verse that has been carved into stone. In some ways, he faced a harder
task. As long as she never punched him again, she would know that she was keeping her side of the bargain.
He would have to be careful never to allow an offhand comment to slide loose without thinking how it might
affect Aeryn. He flicked a fast glance at her, wondering if he would be able to tell when he’d screwed up.
The steady blue-gray eyes caught his glance, and stared at him unselfconsciously. Aeryn had lowered her
guard, and all her emotions were there for him to see, provided he took the time to look. He could tell that she
was still a bit angry, that she was worried about how he was behaving, and that she was also mildly
embarrassed -- about the punch he assumed. John unbuckled his pants and started to slide them off his hips,
and her expression changed. The new look was equally clear for him to read and had nothing to do with what
she’d been thinking or feeling two microts earlier. He stopped, frozen, with his pants hanging just short of
indecency. Aeryn smiled and began taking off her boots.
Oh yeah, he decided. He’d be able to tell the next time he screwed up. From now on, it wasn’t going to take a
punch for him to figure it out. Aeryn would let him know, and it wouldn’t take words, either.
“Are you going to stand like that all afternoon?” She moved past him toward the shower, leaving a trail of
clothes in her wake. John scrambled to finish undressing, his battered nose forgotten.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *