"What are you doing, grandmother?"
I sighed and suppressed the urge to say that I was frelling three Hynerian donkeys. Even after all these cycles I could still be surprised at how frelling polite people on the Favored Planet were, even, or rather, especially if they were upset with you. Instead, I turned and smiled at my granddaughter. "I'm checking my transport pod so it'll be in order for tomorrow's flight."
Ennixx sighed to herself. "Grandma, I thought we talked about this?" She was about to start the whole argument all over again when her eye caught something else. "Where did you find that?"
I moved my pulse rifle over closer to me. "Right where you hid it all those cycles ago. Hiding it behind Durat's shop was an excellent idea. None of the children would accidentally find it and injure themselves. Actually no one would go near that old bore unless they were required to. And it was always handy if I needed it."
"Grandma, how could you?"
I smiled. "Cycles of training, dear. Many cycles of training."
She smiled back at me and came over to sit by me. Ah, she was going to try to be reasonable with me. And calling me, Grandma, too. Ah, well, the dutiful grand-daughter come to talk sense into foolish old Grandma. What would Ennixx have been like in the outside Universe?
"Grandma, why are you leaving your home? Why are you going to try to meet people who probably left dozens of cycles ago? Why chance leaving here for a Universe filled with pain and suffering, cruelty and war?"
That at least I could answer easily enough. "They're my friends."
"Your friends are here, Grandma. Why would you consider someone like that Chiana a friend? She was a thief and a trelk, or so you've told us. How can you consider her a friend?"
That was easy enough, too. "Once when I was so sick that I thought I was going to die, she went to a Gammack Base to get me help. Even when John was captured, she completed her mission and saved my life."
Ennixx had heard that story enough times to ask a question that was harder to answer. "She didnít like you at all. You said yourself that she didnít do it for you. Not a bit."
I nodded. "I've given that a lot of thought over the cycles. You're right. Left to herself, Chiana would have let me die. She went to the Gammack Base for John Crichton. Except for Chiana's brother Nerri, I suspect John was the only person who treated Chiana as someone who was valuable for herself, and not for what she could do for him." I thought for a few microts. "Yes, she definitely went to the Gammack base for John Crichton and not for me."
"The why do you have to go someplace for her, Grandma?" Ennixx asked reasonably. "She didn't go for you."
"Ah, but she did go. And I'm alive because of it."
"Well, what about that Hynerian?"
"Ah, "I thought. "She's getting to the meat of her argument. " I admit I still smiled at the thought of Rygel after all of these cycles. "Rygel! Now there was an odious little toad."
I glanced at Ennixx, who was smiling. No doubt savoring her victory. "But he had his moments. Once, when I was captured by a former Peacekeeper, he displayed a great deal of bravery. He probably saved my life, although I'm sure he didn't mean to."
"But if he didnít mean toÖ" She stopped when she realized where that was going. I kept smiling.
I decided to continue. "Then there was D'Argo."
Ennixx sniffed. "D'Argo. A warrior. Someone who fights and kills. After all your time here, how can you want to see someone like that? How can you want to be reminded of battles and wars? Just thinking about whole societies with no other purpose than war makes me ill. You've left being a warrior behind. Stay here where you belong."
I slowly shook my head. "I may have stopped being a warrior, Ennixx, but I never forgot how to be a warrior. Every cycle I have been on this planet, I've been prepared to defend my home and family if necessary,"
"It isn't necessary here." She snapped at me.
"Not yet." I snapped back.
We stared at each other for a few microts. I broke the silence. "D'Argo had every reason to hate me. My kind, Peacekeepers, had murdered his wife, threatened their son and sent D'Argo to a prison ship. He accepted me as a comrade. Perhaps because I was a fellow warrior. Perhaps because his wife was a Sebacean. Perhaps, even, because he saw how John felt about me."
I saw that the mention of the legendary John Crichton had gotten Ennixx's attention again. I couldn't resist changing the subject. "D'Argo always wanted to be a farmer, you know. I wonder if I'll impress him now because of my battle skills or because I can grow sweet kalashkas."
"Grandma, anyone can grow sweet kalashkas."
"Well, donít you dare tell D'Argo if he comes here." I teased.
Ennixx waited a few seconds to try to get the subject back to John, without being too obvious about it. I was quicker.
"Of course, D'Argo was emotionally very close to a plant. " I said. "He'd have done well as a farmer."
"The Delvian Pa'u." Ennixx sighed. "Of all the people you had to meet that might have taught you the value of peace, you had to meet a renegade Pa'u."
I momentarily thought back dozens of cycles. "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the worlds." I muttered under my breath.
"What, Grandma? That makes no sense."
"You are so right!" I laughed.
Ennixx just stared at me.
I thought back over the cycles. "I once called Zhaan a warrior. She was terribly hurt by it. Probably it hurt because I was right. She's a great warrior if she has a cause. She taught me that you could be a warrior and still care about every living being in the cosmos."
Ennixx took a breath. Ah! She was ready to talk about John. I was too quick for her.
"What about.." she started.
"Stark?" I smiled. She didn't. "Another strange one. He was tortured for cycles by Peacekeepers. I never net another of his kind, so I was never able to tell if it changed him, or if he was always a little strange. Much like humans, perhaps. So hard to judge a species by just one example." I glanced at Ennixx and hurried on. "Stark loved Zhaan. I think that for some odd reason he saw a little of Zhaan in me. I never was sure, but if he did, I'm flattered."
"John Crichton." Ennixx managed to change the topic with those two words.
"Yes, John. The love of my life." I smiled.
"Didn't you love Grandpa?" She asked.
"Of course, dear, but John was different." Oh was he different. But how would I ever explain how to a girl who'd never left the Favored Planet.
"Different!" Ennixx interrupted my thoughts. " John Crichton, miracle worker. A primitive from a backward planet who managed to unlock secrets the rest of the Universe barely knows exists. The man with a plan. The man with emotions, the ready grin and the unintelligible comments. The man who said you could be more."
"More." I broke in. "Yes, more. I am more and you, for one, should be glad. You wouldn't be here if it weren't for John Crichton." Ennixx just stared at me, so I went on. "Before John Crichton I was a Peacekeeper. I was nothing but Peacekeeper. I followed the rules and I lived my life as a Peacekeeper should. Oh, occasionally I'd weaken, but I always obeyed the rules in the end. I was always a Peacekeeper. I killed. I killed mercilessly anything that I was told was the enemy. And I never questioned why I was killing."
Ennixx was shocked. "GrandmaÖ."
"No!" I cut her off. "You wanted to talk about John and now we will. If I had come here without ever meeting John, I would have loathed this planet and everyone on it. I would have spent my life trying to leave, even if it killed me, or I would have started killing the people here. You exist because John Crichton taught me enough about love to survive on this planet and thrive. Donít you ever forget that, Ennixx."
We looked at each other for microts.
"Do you still love him?" She asked at last.
"Of course I do." I hadn't had to think about that. Of course I did.
"More than Grandpa!"
Now that was harder, but I had thought about that one. "No, not more, but differently. Love on the Favored Planet is different. It's gentler, slower, more peaceful. And, I never got to express my love for John. I was too frightened of love, or too busy, or too angry at John, or too something for the few cycles we had." I didn't want to confuse the poor girl, so I continued. "You love many people, Ennixx. Me, your parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. You love them differently, but the same. Correct?" She nodded.
Ennixx stared at me for a long time. Finally, I decided I'd better answer the question she wouldnít ask. "No, I wonít stay with him now. If all we've learned about the mist is correct, they've hardly aged on Moya. I must go up there to warn them all and tell them to leave."
Ennixx looked at me questioningly. "This John Crichton wonít love you now that you're old?"
"Oh, he'll love me. He'll try to do something incredibly stupid, too. If there was ever a more stubborn person in the Universe than John CrichtonÖ."
Ennixx was laughing.
"Oh, all right, I'm just as stubborn. Are you happy now?"
"So, you'll return, Grandma?"
I nodded. "My place is here and John's is elsewhere now. I'll return." I finished the last of my checks and tried to stand. My knee locked under me and I almost fell. "Here, girl, give your old grandmother a hand. I've sat too long and I'll need help getting home."
Ennixx took my arm and walked me home. When we arrived, she stopped and tried one more time. "It seems Grandma that you're taking a big risk for people who may have already left, or who may have forgotten you, or run into other problems. They may be dead. You may be risking your life for nothing. "
I shook my head. "Not for nothing. I'm going because I owe something to the people who taught me about love. Even if they are long gone, I still owe them. And I'll never stop owing them." I could see she didnít accept this, but I left her on my doorstep and went inside to my bed to my bed.
Before dawn, I arose and headed for the transport pod. When I arrived found Ennixx waiting for me.
"What is it now, Ennixx." I asked.
"I'm going with you. I owe something to the person who taught me about love."