Disclaimer: This is fanfic. I don't own any of these characters or anything else here... Rated PG: mild violence, one profanity.
This is my first piece of fanfic: a Farscape - Dr. Who crossover story. The first such story I'm aware of, in fact. In terms of Dr. Who, this story takes place shortly after "The Robots of Death." In Farscape terms it takes place somewhere between "They've Got a Secret" and "Rhapsody in Blue." A minor spoiler for the former episode is present. There are no other real spoilers anywhere here, save for a couple from over 20 years ago.
Don't know about the Doctor and Leela? Go rent "The Talons of Weng-Chiang," "Horror of Fang Rock" or "The Robots of Death" somewhere then.
Archiving: If you want it - just ask me.
Leela tightened her grip on the console as the TARDIS lurched for a third time.
"Doctor, what's happening?"
"I don't know yet!"
"I thought you said the TARDIS was invincible when in flight."
"I said that?"
"Well, nothing's actually gotten in now, has it?"
Leela was still trying to think of an appropriately caustic response when the TARDIS bucked again. She noted with some alarm that even the smooth motion of the Time Rotor in the console's center had been disturbed.
"Ah, just as I thought."
"We've got company."
"But you said that we're 'nowhere' when we're traveling. How can something else be 'nowhere' with us?" she asked, once again trying to keep the Doctor's many explanations straight in her head.
"'Nowhere,' as you put it, is actually inter-dimensional space and, yes, we can have visitors here. Right now it appears that we've got a rather large one going by. We're bouncing in its wake like a small boat being passed by an ocean liner."
Puzzled as she almost always was by the Doctor's attempts at edification the young warrior asked a more fundamental question: "Are we in danger?"
"No, I don't think so. There'll be a few bumps as they go by but as long as they don't suddenly revert to normal space..."
The TARDIS shook again, this time so violently that both the Doctor and Leela were thrown to the floor.
"Like that," he winced as the TARDIS filled with the unmistakable sounds of re-materialization.
"Starburst completed," announced Pilot to the gathering in Command.
"Are we on target?" asked D'Argo.
"Yes, and all systems appear to be operating nominal...." Pilot broke off.
"What is it, Pilot?" asked Zhaan.
"I do not understand how, but we appear to have been boarded."
"What? How?" queried Aeryn, suddenly fully alert. "Nothing could have come up on us that quickly."
"Show us the hanger deck." D'Argo insisted.
"The intruder is not in the hanger. It is in one of the disused lower cargo holds."
D'Argo snorted. "How can that be? It must be a sensor malfunction, Pilot."
"I cannot explain it. This object seems to have simply appeared there."
The image of Pilot was replaced by a transmission from a DRD of a rectangular blue box significantly smaller than Farscape 1. A small white light flashed on its top.
"What the frell is that thing?" Rygel asked.
"I still think that this is some sort of malfunction," insisted D'Argo. "That 'craft' must be some overlooked piece of junk that got bounced around by the starburst."
"I'm not so sure of that," observed Zhaan. "John, could you take a closer look at this."
What could Zhaan think I'd see that no one else would? wondered Crichton.
As he stepped closer to the display for a better view, Zhaan added, "The markings on this object seem similar to the ones on your ship and clothing."
He stared in disbelief at the sight before him. After some moments Aeryn leaned next to his ear and quietly asked, "John, can you read it?"
"Yeah," he replied, still scarcely believing his eyes. "It says 'Police Box.'"
"What happened?" Leela asked as she pulled herself to her feet again.
"I believe we got caught in their backwash, so to speak, and they pulled us with them into normal space," the Doctor concluded as he flipped on the external viewplate. "Anyway, let's have a look, shall we?"
All the viewer showed was a large, empty, dimly-lit space.
"Hmmm.... Not very promising," the Doctor mused. "Still, we're here," he continued, giving the environmental indicators a once over. "Let's go have a little look 'round."
"Perhaps we should just be on our way, Doctor."
"Why? Aren't you the least bit curious?" he asked, reaching for his coat, scarf and hat.
"The last time we landed in a place like this those mechanical men nearly killed us."
"That was many light years and centuries from here, Leela." He gave her a questioning look. "Don't tell me you're frightened."
"I am a warrior of the Sevateem!" she replied as she reached for the door control.
"Police box?" asked D'Argo. "What is that?"
"I'm not sure. I think that they used to use them back on Earth in a place called England."
"You told us you humans don't have interstellar spacecraft," Aeryn reminded him pointedly.
"We don't. I have no idea what this is or why it says that on it. And I certainly can't tell you what it's doing in one of our cargo holds."
"Well, one thing's for certain" D'Argo observed, "There is no way something like that could have a crew. It's just too small, even for Rygel."
"Then what do you call those?" asked the Hynerian as two obviously humanoid figures emerged.
As they all looked on in bewilderment, it was Zhaan who first gathered herself together enough to ask, "Pilot, can the sensors identify what these two are?"
"I will have to move the local DRD in closer to get the necessary readings. That will increase the likelihood that the intruders will see it."
"Noted, Pilot. Please move it in closer."
Anxious seconds later Pilot reported "The two entities are indeed lifeforms."
"Are they human?" asked Crichton, unable to hide his growing thrill at the prospect of meeting his own kind once again.
Aeryn felt a small knot begin forming in her stomach.
"The larger male's physiology does not correspond to any pattern in Moya's data banks. The readings are highly unusual. The DRD reports what appear to be a dual heartbeat and a very complex neurological structure."
"That last one certainly rules humans out," quipped D'Argo, glancing over at Crichton. "What about the smaller one?"
"Taking the fact that it is female into account, there is a single match in our files - Commander Crichton."
"John, that's wonderful!" exclaimed Zhaan. "John?"
He was already gone from Command, with Aeryn right behind him.
"Hrrrrr.... Not good," observed the Luxan. "Neither of them is armed. Pilot, do you read any weapons on our 'visitors?'"
"The.... 'police box'.... is impervious to all scans and I am getting some very odd readings from the pockets of the male's coat. I definitely do detect one weapon, however. The female is carrying a rather sizable knife."
Noting the sheath strapped to the woman's leg, D'Argo concluded, "A frail human cannot possibly wield such a weapon with any proficiency."
As he finished his observation Leela suddenly looked directly at the DRD. There was a blur of motion, some video noise, and then the display was showing Pilot once again.
"Pilot, what happened?" asked D'Argo with some alarm.
"It would appear that the human has impaled the DRD with her weapon. It is no longer functioning."
D'Argo was momentarily crestfallen. "This is not your day for making predictions," observed Zhaan sympathetically. "Come, let us go down and meet our guests."
"Well I'm staying right here," said Rygel, not surprising anyone.
"As you wish, your Eminence. Ask Pilot - politely - to supply you with another DRD so you can observe us." And, with that, Zhaan turned elegantly and left Command with D'Argo following.
"Leela! That was totally unnecessary!"
"It was observing us, Doctor," she replied matter-of-factly. Then, as she pried her knife from the DRD, she noted more ominously, "This is a machine, like those robots."
"Well, it's certainly some sort of robotic servicer," observed the Doctor as he picked up the remains for a closer inspection. "Far more limited in its functions than those chaps on the miner, though. I would imagine a ship like this is crawling with them."
That thought made Leela's skin crawl.
"Hmmm.... This is interesting. This robot's technology is partially organic. I wonder...."
The Doctor walked over to a nearby bulkhead and pressed his ear to it. "Yes, just as I thought." He then placed his hand on the floor. "Warm," he observed.
"What are you doing, Doctor?"
"Checking for vital signs."
"I'm checking to see if this ship is alive."
"What?" The idea terrified Leela. "If this is a being.... then we must be.... in its belly. We'll be digested! We must get out of here at once!"
"No, Leela, it's not that sort of animal," the Doctor tried to reassure her. "We're probably in some sort of cargo hold. I'd imagine that most of the ship is holds like this. Given its size it's almost certainly a cargo vessel of some kind."
"Then where is the cargo?" asked Leela, gesturing around her, still not completely convinced.
"That's a good question. I don't know. Perhaps they're on their return run. Not usually the most profitable way to run a business - empty half the time."
"I hear footsteps approaching from that direction," Leela announced in a near whisper, pointing.
"Excellent! I'd really like to find out more about this ship," the Doctor beamed, turning to face the way Leela had indicated. He failed to notice her slip into one of the numerous shadows. "Hello," he called out. "Sorry to drop in on you like this, but your ship took us along for the ride. I apologize about the servicer. We mean you no harm." He watched as two silhouettes emerged from the darkness - a slightly stocky, human-looking male and a marginally taller, athletic-looking female.
"Hello," he repeated, extending his hand to them. "I'm the Doctor."
Aeryn noted the human-style greeting but did not return it. John, however, was more than happy to return the gesture enthusiastically.
"I'm John Crichton and this is Aeryn Sun. Welcome to Moya."
"I'm very glad to be...."
"Where is your companion?" Aeryn interrupted sharply.
"I beg your pardon? Oh.... Um...." The Doctor glanced around. "She was right here a moment ago."
Her presence admitted, Leela leapt from her hiding place and, before Aeryn could react, she had her knife to John's throat.
"Should I kill him now, Doctor?"
"No! Of course not!"
Leela considered this for a moment. "You are right. We can use him as a hostage."
"Hostage? Why are you doing this?" asked Aeryn as she looked for some sort of opening. Not finding one she turned her glare towards the Doctor. "You said you meant us no harm!"
"Be careful Doctor! This one is a hunter. Her every move screams it. These are not complacent merchants like we met on the miner."
"Leela! Put him down! This is no way for you to behave!"
Again Leela considered the Doctor's directive. "Very well, Doctor," she said, throwing Crichton to the floor with a thud.
"Drop your weapon!" a deep voice suddenly called out. Leela's eyes widened as D'Argo emerged from the darkness, his converted Qualta blade aimed at her head.
"Stay back!" she yelled, as she moved to guard the Doctor, brandishing her knife as menacingly as she could manage under the circumstances. Her bravery and protectiveness were not lost on Aeryn, even as she shifted unconsciously to stand over Crichton. This human, anyway, is not to be trifled with, she thought.
"Leela, I suggest you give him the knife."
"But then we will be defenseless, Doctor."
"Compared to a Luxan with his Qualta, we already are."
"Oh," she demurred. "Are you sure?"
"Yes. Give it to him - gently."
Leela gingerly handed the knife into D'Argo's outstretched hand.
"Are you injured, Crichton?" he asked.
"No. Little Miss Tarzan here did no lasting damage," he said as he got to his feet. He was surprised when the Doctor smiled at his remark. He also noticed the pained looked that passed fleetingly over Aeryn's face.
"I'm terribly sorry for all this," apologized the Doctor, putting his hands on Leela's shoulders. "But my friend here is not used to civilization and its behavioral norms yet."
"I was wondering about that myself," Zhaan interjected, motioning for D'Argo to lower his weapon. "It is unusual for us to see someone dressed in such primitive animal skins. You, however, seem an altogether different sort of being. And I see you are at least passingly familiar with the culture of one our company."
"Well, I suppose I must have come this way once or twice before. It's a fairly small galaxy after all." With that the Doctor reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small paper bag. "Would anyone else like a Jellybaby?"
"No, I'm sorry," the Doctor said adamantly as the group sat around the table in the mess. "I am not running a taxi service. I do not take on passengers."
"What about Leela then?" asked Aeryn, still eyeing the young human distrustfully.
"She's an accidental companion, like many of those I've traveled with. In her case, she stowed away on the TARDIS when I left her world. Now that she's along for the ride, she's free to accompany me for as long as she likes."
"This entire conversation is ridiculous," complained Rygel. "It is hard to believe that the Doctor's craft can actually carry two passengers, let alone any more."
"You'd be surprised, Dominar. Being trans-dimensional, the TARDIS is much roomier than it looks."
The crew of Moya exchanged puzzled glances.
"What the Doctor means," explained Leela, "Is that the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside."
"How is that possible?" asked Crichton.
Before the Doctor could begin to answer, Zhaan decided to steer the discussion back into more promising waters. "Doctor, could you at least give us help in establishing Moya's position relative to our various home worlds?"
"I'm afraid not."
"Why not?" asked D'Argo, beginning to get annoyed.
"Because when your lovely bio-mechanoid ship pulled the TARDIS off course, we lost our spatial and temporal bearings. Right now the TARDIS is much like your Leviathan. It doesn't quite know where it is. Hopefully we'll be able to land on a planet some time soon where we can determine where and when we are, so we can reset the guidance system. Until then the TARDIS will be traveling almost randomly."
"Not that that's much different from how it travels normally," Leela put in.
"You must understand," the Doctor continued. "It's not that I don't sympathize with you all. Leela and I are both refugees of sorts from our native worlds. It's just that I'm not really in a position to give you any help. If I could, I would."
"But would you at least consider taking John with you Doctor?" asked Zhaan, causing Aeryn to give her a quick look of alarm.
"Why him in particular?"
"Yeah, Zhaan. Why me?"
"Because, John, your situation is different than those the rest of us find ourselves in. We, at least, are in the general vicinity of our homes. You don't know where you are relative to Earth. For all we know it could be in a far distant galaxy. And, as long as you stay here, your only chance for getting home would appear to rest on a bizarre natural phenomenon. The Doctor has made it clear that he has a strong affinity for Earth, so I'm certain that if you go with him you'll eventually get home."
"Zhaan is right, Crichton," observed D'Argo.
"Yes.... She makes a strong case on your behalf," said the Doctor. He paused to consider her words and then continued, "And it would be nice to have someone with scientific and engineering skills to help me with the TARDIS for a change... Very well then, I will make an exception in your case. If you want to come with Leela and me you may."
Zhaan and D'Argo both smiled and patted John supportively. Aeryn's face, on the other hand, had become set in its expressionless Peacekeeper mask.
"Do I have to decide now?" asked John, his heart racing at the thought of finally being able to start on the journey home.
"No, not unless Leela and I have already worn out our welcome," the Doctor said with a smile. "If it's alright with you we'll stay for a few days so that you can decide at your leisure. Leela's education will certainly be well served by spending time with beings like yourselves."
The Doctor rose from the table. "Now, if you don't mind, I think I'd like to see some more of this wonderful ship."
"I will gladly show you whatever you'd like to see," said D'Argo.
As they left the mess together the Doctor could be heard saying, "Could you introduce me to Pilot?"
The next morning, needing distraction, Aeryn headed to the maintenance bay to do some work on her Prowler. Anything to keep myself busy, she thought as she walked down the corridor.
She arrived to find the Doctor and John discussing the Farscape. They were the last people she wanted to see just then. She also noticed that one person was missing from the scene. That absence pulled her into the room.
"Where is Leela?" she asked, always concerned where the primitive violence-prone human female might me.
"Um.... She was right here a moment ago," the Doctor replied.
Not again. This female is better at disappearing than Crichton on a commerce planet.
"I'm in here," Leela's muffled voice sounded from inside the Prowler.
Aeryn stormed to her fighter and forcibly removed Leela from the cockpit.
"I was just looking. I wouldn't have touched anything. The Doctor's made it very clear to me how important that is," Leela protested as she pulled her arm from Aeryn's surprisingly strong grip. Angered by the rough treatment she moved to stand toe to toe with the taller alien. She looked Aeryn in the eye menacingly, her face set in challenge, her hand ready to go for her knife.
"Later, little one," Aeryn growled, turning back to inspect her Prowler's condition. "First things first, I believe you humans say."
"This is a formidable looking craft," the Doctor observed as came up beside Aeryn to watch her checkout of the Prowler. Surveying the controls he added, "This looks like it was designed for a human pilot."
"Not human, Sebacean," Aeryn corrected him pointedly. "The controls were custom fitted to maximize their efficiency - and my own."
"This is yours, eh? Hmmm...." The Doctor became lost in his thoughts for a moment. "Sebacean.... Sebacean," he muttered. Suddenly he looked about the Prowler and back to Aeryn, eyes narrowing. "Peacekeepers." He turned and started out of the maintenance bay, his long scarf trailing behind him. "Come Leela, let's find some more agreeable part of Moya to inspect."
"But Doctor, what's the matter?" she asked as she moved to catch up with him. "What are Peacekeepers?"
"They're mercenaries," he said gravely, looking back at Aeryn. "With a strong dose of S.S. thrown in for good measure," he added looking over at John.
Leela turned back to face John and Aeryn as she exited and shrugged.
Aeryn went over to John. "Did you hear that?" she asked, color rising on her pale face.
"How could I not have?"
"The derision in his voice. 'Peacekeepers', " she mimicked.
"Well, Rygel, D'Argo and Zhaan make it abundantly clear almost daily that the Peacekeepers aren't exactly universally loved," John tried to joke, hoping to defuse Aeryn's anger. "And he obviously doesn't have a high regard for the military."
"He said it like I was lower lifeform!" Aeryn said, her tone rising. She stopped for a moment, surprised at her own conclusion; then she looked down dejectedly and repeated softly, "Like I was a lower lifeform."
"I think that, compared to whatever he is, all of us are probably 'lower lifeforms,'" John conceded, trying to put as positive a spin on things as he could. "From what I could gather the Doctor's people have been traveling in time and space for thousands and thousands of years. And all things considered, he seems pretty magnanimous about it,"
"Perhaps you're right. Maybe he just is some sort of highly evolved pacifist. " Aeryn said the word as if it left a bad taste in her mouth. "I doubt that creatures who have developed the sorts of technology they have have anything to worry about in this part of the cosmos."
Aeryn paused for a moment, considering her emotions. It is disturbing to think that, though, when you're a Peacekeeper - even an ex one. This is like the feelings I get whenever I think about what could possibly have destroyed the Zelbinion. Fear. Dread.
"Still, his explanation about Peacekeepers seemed lost on Leela," she continued. "In fact, it seemed aimed more towards you."
"Yeah, I doubt Leela has a clue what a mercenary is. Maybe he figures I'm just a dumb human who hasn't caught on about the Peacekeepers yet," John ventured in the hope that Aeryn would simply forget about the rest of the Doctor's description.
"That wasn't the part he directed at you. It was that part about the S.S., whatever that is."
So much for hoping she'd forget that. Crichton began to cringe inwardly, sensing what was coming.
"This S.S. is something from Erp then?"
Little white lie time John. "I don't know. History wasn't my best subject in school. It's not like I've been there like he has."
"Fine. Now the truth this time."
Man I hate it when she sees right through me.
"Yeah.... It was, unfortunately."
"What did he mean by it?"
"I don't think you want to know that. It's not flattering."
"Tell me!" Aeryn insisted, her color again rising.
"Alright," he said, taking a deep breath. Let's try the little harmless lie of omission this time.
"The S.S. were part of a totalitarian government of a major nation on Earth some 35 cycles or so before I was born. The whole regime, and the S.S. in particular, were obsessed with their notions of racial purity. They also liked to strut around in their black uniforms in order to intimidate people."
John paused, regarding Aeyrn's thoughtful expression. "So you can see what he was talking about, can't you?" he continued. "That is a lot like the Peacekeepers."
"But there's more, isn't there? I can see it in your eyes, John. You're still hiding something from me."
Busted. Maybe I can bluff my way out.
"Forget about it. I don't think it's what he meant."
"I'll be the judge of that," Aeryn chided him. "Tell me."
She's gonna go ballistic. I know it.
John took another deep breath before continuing. "One of their primary functions was to round up, imprison and murder millions of people seen as inferior to the Master Race. It took the greatest war in my planet's history to rid ourselves of them."
His answer left Aeryn visibly shaken. "That's what he thinks of us?" she muttered to herself. She turned away and began storming out of the hanger. Then she stopped and turned back to John. "Peacekeepers do not commit genocide! We are not savages!" She moved closer to him once again, anger flaring in her eyes. "Is that how you see us too, John, like this S.S.?"
"You're not a Peacekeeper anymore."
"I see," she said icily as her eyes began to glaze with tears.
"Aeryn...." He reached out a hand to try to comfort and reassure her.
"It's alright, Crichton," she said with finality as she pulled away from him. "I suppose it really doesn't matter anymore anyway." She turned to leave.
"Shit," was all John could manage as he stood there alone.
Later, even though she did not feel the least bit hungry, Aeryn went to the mess to have dinner with the rest of the crew as usual. When she arrived the Doctor was there with them, but John and Leela were absent.
"Lose track of your pet again, Doctor?" she asked as she entered.
"Aeryn! Is that tone really necessary?" Zhaan scolded. "What is the matter with you?" She turned to the Doctor. "I must apologize for her behavior. This outburst is most out of character."
"You don't need to make excuses for me, Zhaan. I can take care of myself. That's what Peacekeepers are trained to do, after all," she said, again mimicking the Doctor's tone.
"Yes, John told me I'd upset you with my remarks. I did not mean anything personal by them. I am quite capable from separating my opinions about individuals from my opinions of the organizations they may be part of. And, as I've since learned you were born and raised a Peacekeeper it would hardly be fair for me to blame you for your choice of a career path."
"But you did seem in a hurry to be out of my presence."
"I mostly wanted to get Leela out of there as the two of you seemed bent on bringing out the aggressive tendencies in one another. I did not want to see you get hurt."
"Me hurt?" Aeryn scoffed. "I'm the one trained in hand to hand combat, not her."
"True, but you also then most likely have a soldier's tactical sense and survival instincts. Leela has neither. Indeed, she's much like a child in many ways. She does not know when to stop and when pushed she has no regard for her own safety, whatever the situation." He paused, looking at Aeryn sternly. "In other words, she has no problem dying - or killing anyone - anytime, if the mood strikes her."
"Then why is John still alive?"
"Because she's learning."
The Doctor's bluntness chastened Aeryn. Out of renewed concern she again asked, "So where are she and Crichton now?"
"Leela took Crichton down to inspect the TARDIS," D'Argo answered.
"Then he's made his decision?" asked Aeryn sullenly.
"No, he hasn't," the Doctor told her. "I thought it would be best if he got a good look at the old girl so that he'd have a better idea what he was getting into if he wants to come with us." He stood. "I was about to join them. Why don't you come with me?"
Not wanting to face D'Argo or Zhaan at that moment Aeryn simply said, "Alright."
As they walked to the cargo hold in silence it was the Doctor who finally spoke. "I don't want to seem impolite, but if you're not going to talk to me then I guess I'll have find something to amuse myself." With that he reached into his pocket and produced a small object consisting of two rounded wooden cylinders with a thin gap between them. As Aeryn watched he slipped a string from the gap around one finger and began flinging the object in an up and down motion.
"This is something from Earth. It's called a yo-yo."
"What is it for, improving hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity?"
"No, it's simply a children's toy. It's for fun, something you military types usually don't have enough of."
Aeryn scowled at the Doctor but, to her surprise, he was smiling at her. She felt herself begin to smile back.
"Doctor, can I ask you something?"
"I don't see why not. I don't promise to answer, though," he said as he pocketed his yo-yo.
"It's not about you. It's about John and Earth," she answered, having noticed, as everyone else had, the Doctor's reluctance to talk about himself in anything but general terms.
"Fine. Earth I can tell you about."
"Is Earth as beautiful as John says it is?"
"It's one of the loveliest places I've ever come across. I suppose that, even with all its problems, it's my favorite place in the entire Universe."
Aeryn felt a wave of despair coming over her. What's to keep him here if his home is like that - a place that can entice even a traveler like this one? I'll be alone.
"Can I ask you one other thing?"
"Same limits apply," he responded smiling broadly at her.
"Oh, so you noticed that remark too, eh? Interesting.... I was able to place John by it. Tarzan's a very popular fictional character from the time period John comes from. He was born an aristocrat but grew up a good-hearted savage raised by wild animals."
She didn't like the probable implications of that. "I see," Aeryn said gloomily. She decided she needed to have her suspicions either confirmed or denied. "And 'Rambo?'" she asked.
"That doesn't ring any bells. Probably something silly and American. Why do you ask?"
"John's called me 'Little Miss Rambo' on a few occasions. I was wondering if it was anything like 'Little Miss Tarzan.'"
This time Aeryn didn't take any comfort in the Doctor's smile. "Probably." After a moment he continued, "Now it's my turn to ask a question."
"Same limits apply," Aeryn echoed, beginning to warm to the Doctor and trying very hard to cheer herself up.
"I'm afraid it's about you. From what little I can recall about the Peacekeepers I don't think I've ever heard of an ex one."
"I fled with the others when I was charged with being 'irreversibly contaminated' from my contact with Crichton. I am considered a threat to our racial purity," she said dryly.
Aeryn was surprised by the look of compassion on the Doctor's face. "And if they catch you?"
"I'll be executed if they ever apprehend me - probably slowly and painfully."
"My former captain wants to kill him personally."
"That's not what I was asking about."
"Oh." She paused for a moment. "That will cease to be of any importance soon anyway," she added, looking down dejectedly.
"So you want him to stay?"
"Yes... No! He has to go with you. You're his best chance to get home."
They walked the rest of the way in silence.
"This is the room the Doctor is giving you," said Leela as she opened a door in the TARDIS for John.
John looked about the room. There were books in English on a shelf. BOOKS!!! Something to read at last, he thought, surprised at the intensity of his reaction to something so mundane.
John pulled one out and leafed through it. "This is a medical book from about 30 years before I left Earth."
"If you say so," answered Leela. "The last occupant of this room was a human named 'Harry.' I believe he was some sort of healer. There are other books in my room. They were left by someone named 'Sarah Jane.' The Doctor says she was a journalist, whatever that is."
Just then they heard the Doctor's voice hailing them from the control room. Leela called back that they would join him shortly.
Having announced his arrival the Doctor leaned back through the outer door. "You've come all this way, the least you could do is come in and have a look."
"I'm not sure about it, Doctor," Aeryn responded nervously.
"Don't tell me you're frightened?"
"At heart I'm still an Officer," she said firmly, seemingly willing to trample the Doctor as she marched into the TARDIS.
For a moment she could not grasp the scene before her. The well-lit white-walled room was indeed significantly larger than the outside of the TARDIS. A number of doors clearly indicated that there were a least several more rooms as well.
"Well, aren't you going to say it?" asked the Doctor.
"That's it's bigger on the inside than on the outside."
"Why would I state the obvious?"
"Everybody else does," said the Doctor with a mischievous look on his face.
Aeryn smiled at the remark as she continued her survey of the room. She walked over to the small hexagonal station in the center of the room. "These panels are all for this airlock?" she asked, surprised by the complexity of the control for such a simple function.
"This is not an airlock, it's the main control room. That is the TARDIS' control console."
"You control everything from this? Single-handedly?"
Suddenly Aeryn realized that what had seemed a ridiculously complex apparatus was actually a model of simplicity, elegance and efficiency. Thinking of the mechanisms needed to control Moya or even her little Prowler, the engineering skill of the Doctor's people became crystal clear to her once more.
"Oh, by the way," the Doctor added. "I probably don't need to tell a spacecraft pilot this, but don't touch anything on the console. You wouldn't believe the troubles I've had from people messing about with technologies they don't understand."
"That's just the sort of thing we say to Crichton all the time. We don't want him to hurt himself. He's such a primitive," Aeryn responded before the irony of her situation hit home. Now I'm the primitive. So much for Sebacean racial superiority. The Doctor's people could probably squash us like bugs if they wanted to.
"Doctor, do your people have an interplanetary empire?"
"No. In fact I suppose many of my people probably think I'm a little deranged for even wanting to travel. Aside from a very few of us we're a bunch of homebodies."
Thank the Goddess for that, as Zhaan would say.
"And what do you do to your enemies."
"It's been a long, long time since we've had anything we could call an enemy. The High Council do, however, occasionally take it upon themselves to punish those who are stupid enough to threaten us or who disturb the order of things on too great a scale."
"What do you do to them?"
"Oh, usually we've just enclosed their worlds in time loops so that they are isolated from the rest of the Universe. Although, we have attempted, at least once that I'm aware of, to use our time traveling capabilities to go back and stop a threat to intergalactic peace - namely the Daleks - from ever appearing in the first place."
"Would your 'High Council' ever see the Peacekeepers as such a problem?"
The Doctor chuckled. "No."
Thank the Goddess for that, again.
"I don't quite understand, though, Doctor. If your people can go back in time and change things before they happen why don't you do it more often?"
"Because we've learned the hard way that we are not gods."
"But what about you?"
"I'm allowed to do little things here or there. My people actually put severe limitations on what I can do. For example, I cannot purposely travel somewhere with the intent of changing events I already know have taken place. So, if Leela had killed John yesterday I couldn't have gone back two minutes in time and stopped her without serious repercussions for myself and everyone else involved."
"How would they know? Do they watch you?"
The Doctor did not like the stunned and frightened look that had developed on Aeryn's face over the course of their conversation. "But never mind all that. Come have a look at this!" he said enthusiastically, trying to divert her attention away from whatever was troubling her.
He began to explain in basic terms some of the functions of the console. The stream of 'tech' jargon only blurred in Aeryn's mind as she began to realize why the TARDIS and what it represented upset and intimidated her so much - a second major pillar of what she had been brought up to believe was giving way.
First Crichton showed me how 'lower lifeforms' were not just something to be exploited and crushed. Now I see that we Sebaceans have absolutely no business even thinking we're superior. My 'contamination' is become more and more complete; but since what I was taught is turning out to be nothing but arrogance and lies, I suppose there's actually some comfort in that.
"Aeryn!" John exclaimed as Leela and he reentered the control room. "Isn't the TARDIS the most amazing piece of technology you've ever seen?"
Aeryn simply looked at the portion of the console the Doctor was indicating to her, not venturing to say anything.
"So I take it you approve of her then?" asked the Doctor rhetorically. "Yes, she may be old and a little run down, but she is home," he added as he patted the console affectionately.
"I want to come with you," John announced.
"I'm not surprised," responded the Doctor.
"Neither am I," said Aeryn as she bolted out of the TARDIS.
"Aeryn! Wait!" John called after her.
Confused, Leela looked to the Doctor, who simply motioned towards the door with his head. Understanding, she left to follow Aeryn.
"I take it that was not the reaction you were expecting, John."
"I thought she'd be happy for me."
"I'm sure part of her is. However, I believe she has a great deal going through her mind at the moment." The Doctor paused, a look of concern on his face, and then continued, "I must admit I find myself in the same predicament. I think I may have acted rashly."
"Because I now believe that Zhaan was not entirely correct in her assessment of your situation."
John was taken aback. "How so?"
"Your situation is not unique on this ship. Like you, Aeryn has nowhere to go in this part of the galaxy either. In fact, her situation is far worse than yours. Like Leela she has no home to return to at all."
"But she wants to go back to her old life more than anything else."
"Are you so sure?"
John had to think about that. "No, I guess I'm not," he finally concluded.
"It is immaterial anyway," said the Doctor. "She cannot go back."
John thought about the Doctor's words and then asked hopefully, "If I can convince her to come with us, would you let her?"
"You really care about her, don't you?"
"I care about everyone on Moya, even Rygel, if you can believe it. I owe my life to each of them several times over."
"But she is special to you."
John found himself looking at his boots. "Um...."
"It wasn't a question."
"O.k. Fine. Whatever. Can she come with us?"
"But Leela told me you've had more than two companions at times in the past."
"Never by choice, John. As I said before I have a positive knack for picking up accidental passengers. And they, in turn, no matter how helpful they might sometimes be, have a knack for getting into serious trouble that I must then get them out of."
"Aeryn's very, very good at looking after herself. What harm would there be in taking her with us?"
"Leela is my primary concern. I do not think that having both you and Aeryn with us would be beneficial for her development. Remember the scene in the maintenance bay. You don't think that that was just about Aeryn's ship, do you? They are both hunters, and hunters are usually very territorial."
"But Doctor...." John stammered.
"And if I say yes to you now then perhaps tomorrow you'll want me to take Zhaan next, or Rygel, or D'Argo. And what would you ask me to do in all the places we may visit before I manage to get you home? We'll run into needy, desperate people all the time, John - people far worse off than any of you here on Moya. What would you have me do if the next place we end up is a large colony about to be exterminated by the Daleks or the Sontarans? Bring them all with us? We just couldn't do that."
John looked at the Doctor. There was a great sadness in his eyes, but his face was set in a steely resolve.
"We can't help them all, John, we don't have the means. I have no choice but to set limits. I wish it were some other way, but it isn't."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you."
"It's alright," the Doctor said as he reached over and put his arm around John's shoulders. "Your hearts, well, heart, anyway, is in the right place. For millennia my people have sat in comfort and safety on Gallifrey. I've always felt that with our powers we could make the Universe a much better place, but my arguments have always fallen on deaf ears."
"So is that why you left?"
"Yes, in part. I try to do what little I can with my wits and this one little ship. I will take one of you along with me, not both. And, nothing personal, mind you, but I'm beginning to think that Aeryn would be the proper choice. However, if she doesn't want to go I will happily take you, just as I originally said I would. I will stay one more day and leave it to the two of you to figure out."
"Then take Aeryn then."
"That is what I thought you'd say. If you can convince her to take your place, fine."
And with that the Doctor turned to leave the TARDIS. As he exited he stuck his head back in through the door. "Remember, don't touch the console. I don't want you getting into trouble."
Leela stood outside Aeryn's quarters and peered in, trying her best not to be seen or heard. The Sebacean was sitting silently on her bed with her head in her hands, her long dark hair obscuring her face.
"What do you want?" she abruptly asked, not moving.
Leela stepped just into the room. "The Doctor sent me after you."
"Funny, he doesn't seem like the type to rub it in," Aeryn said as she raised her head to regard Leela with contempt.
"I'm afraid I don't understand," said Leela innocently. "I believe he is concerned about you, as am I."
"I don't want your pity."
"What do you want?"
"Right now I just want you to go away."
"Why? I do not understand why you feel this way towards me."
"Sorry, I'm not here to be your instructor."
Leela again looked puzzled. "But the Doctor told me I could learn a great deal from you."
"He did, did he?"
"Yes. He said I could learn things about.... let's see.... he mentioned.... discipline.... judgment.... and several other words I don't understand."
"He also said you could help me improve my skills," she added hopefully.
"Maybe in some other time or place, Leela. But not here and not now."
"Oh, I see," Leela said, the disappointment clear on her face.
She really is like a child.
"Look," said Aeryn as she rose to face Leela. "Perhaps my attitude towards you has been harsher than it could have been. But remember, your first actions on this ship were to damage a DRD and to hold a knife to crewmember's throat."
"Yes, the Doctor said you felt very protective towards the one called Crichton."
"Really? He said that? How interesting," said Aeryn sardonically.
"Would I have acted differently if I'd had your discipline and judgment?"
"Yes, I would like to think you would have."
"Then I hope I one day acquire them," Leela said, smiling at the notion.
Both of them turned towards the door as they heard someone running down the corridor. Moments later John came into the room, out of breath.
"It's alright Crichton. Neither of us has tried to kill the other one yet," said Aeryn.
"That's not why... I came up here... I've got to talk to you... Things have changed."
"I already know that," Aeryn responded, looking at Leela, the line of her jaw tightening.
"I want you to go with them instead of me."
"I asked the Doctor if he'd take you with us. He said he'd take you instead of me and I agreed."
"John, that's insane. This is your best chance to get back to Earth. And I don't want to go anywhere except back to where I was before."
"But you can't go home."
"I don't need you to remind me of that."
"I don't understand," interrupted Leela. "Why won't he just take you both?"
"Yes, why won't he take us both?" Aeryn asked. "Not that I have any intention of going."
"He doesn't want to mess up his My Fair Lady gig with Audrey Hepburn here," John answered, pointing his thumb at Leela. She and Aeryn exchanged confused looks. "He's also got other reasons and I have to say I respect them, not that I have any choice about it. It's one of us or neither of us. I think you should go."
"John, I'm never setting foot in the TARDIS again," Aeryn said as she fought the urge to shiver that the thought induced.
"Don't you understand? This is your chance to escape."
"John, please stop this," Aeryn pleaded, the strain beginning to show on her face.
"Look, don't say anything now. Just think about it. He's giving us one more day to decide."
"There is nothing to decide. You must go with him."
"Well, I'm not going. There's one place in the lifeboat left, Mrs. Strauss, and it's yours to take."
"Aeryn, please, just think it over."
Her head was spinning. This is madness! "John!" she cried, but he was already gone. She collapsed back onto her bed. Not knowing what else to do, Leela sat beside her and took her hands in her own.
"Why is he doing this?" asked Aeryn, barely able to maintain any semblance of her composure.
Leela tried to come up with an answer. Finally she decided to say the only thing about the entire situation that was clear to her. "He must care about you very much to even think of making such a sacrifice."
John was lying face down in his bed when Aeryn walked into his room. Hearing her enter he asked, "Are they gone?"
"Yes, they've just left."
"And you're still here...."
Aeryn waited for John's response. When none came she added, "They gave me a few books to give to you," and laid them on the floor.
"What was it like?"
"They were disappointed you weren't there to say goodbye. They were more disappointed neither you nor I were coming with them."
"No, I meant what was the TARDIS' leaving like?"
"That little white light on top started to flash again. Then there was this repetitive grinding whirring sort of noise and it just faded from sight. I'm sure Pilot had one of the DRDs make a record of it. If you'd wanted to see it you should have gone down there with the rest of us."
John did not respond. Aeryn noticed that he had not bothered to turn to face her during their exchange.
I suppose he expects me to just walk out now and not mention this whole episode ever again. Well, not this time....
"That was a terrible position you put me in."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"Then you could at least have the courage to face me and talk about it."
John sat up in his bed and motioned for Aeryn to sit down beside him. To his surprise she complied.
She cut him off forcefully. "You're stuck here now! Are you happy? You could have gone home and you didn't. And what's worst of all is you put it all on me!"
"I didn't mean to."
"Can you imagine how I feel knowing you gave that up because of me?"
John thought for a moment. "Yes, I think I can. If it wasn't for me you wouldn't be here at all. You'd still be the happy little Peacekeeper that you were. You stood up for me and it ruined your life. This was probably the closest I'll ever come to being able to put everything right for you again and it's all come to nothing."
Aeryn was stunned by his answer. She felt her anger and hurt evaporating, replaced by what she now knew was their shared sadness.
"You should have gone," John continued. "I just kept hoping you'd see that before it was too late. But now you're stuck here too. You could have had a new life, Aeryn. One without people chasing after you trying to kill you."
"No, that's where you're wrong. My life would have been just as it is here on Moya. Only the cast of characters would have changed. In fact," she said, looking him in the eyes, "my life would have become more like yours. At least here I know what's out there and where I stand."
"But you'd have been safe from the Peacekeepers."
"You may not have noticed, John, but there are plenty of other species out here trying to kill us on a regular basis. I doubt the Doctor's Universe is much different. And I'm not the only one here the Peacekeepers are after."
She's got you there John.
"And where would I have gone with him to?" she continued. "At least you had a destination in mind."
Aeryn got up to leave. "You know, D'Argo and the DRDs spent almost 2 arns looking for you. Where were you hiding this time?"
"I'm not dumb enough to tell you that. I might need to use it again," he said, smiling weakly at her.
She had to smile back. He's right about that. "But why did you hide, John?"
"I figured that if I showed my face you'd probably knock me out again and toss me in the TARDIS."
"You're probably right. At least you understand that much about me. But did you really think I'd consider going if you didn't?"
"I was only doing what I thought was best for you."
"I know and I appreciate it. I suppose I'm angry with you mostly for your own sake, not my own. What you did was by far the worst thing you could have done for yourself."
"I'm not so sure about that."
"I have my reasons."
"You like it here with us savages?"
"Aeryn, I don't think that you or anyone else is a savage. I'm the one from the primitive planet here, remember?"
"Yes I do, Tarzan."
"Tarzan?" John laughed. "That's right - me Tarzan, you Jane," he said, thumping his chest with his fists.
Aeryn simply smiled and shook her head at him as she left.
Two days after the TARDIS' departure, Rygel, D'Argo and Zhaan were in Command together.
"You miss her, don't you, Zhaan?" asked D'Argo.
"Leela? Yes, I suppose I do a little. In some ways she reminds me of myself before I joined the Seek. I too can sense the potential the Doctor sees in her. If only I had recognized it in myself sooner than I did. I think John would call this feeling 'crying over spilled milk.' But then we all have regrets and we all follow our paths at our own pace."
"I must admit it was interesting to finally meet another human, though," she added. "She was so different from John - fierce, aggressive, acting on instinct. And yet she was very similar at the same time - brave, protective, loyal, honest."
"Yes, humans do appear to have some positive traits, despite their being primitives," D'Argo observed grudgingly. "I thought for certain that Crichton would go with them, especially given the female."
"I do not think it was the human female who entered into his thinking. Would you have wanted to go if she had been a Luxan?"
"No. I would only have gone if it had been my son."
Zhaan paused to consider D'Argo. "And you do not miss Leela as well? I would have thought you would be glad to have another warrior aboard Moya, even if she was only a 'Sevateem.'"
"She is not a warrior," D'Argo sneered. "She is a barbarian."
He immediately regretted the implications of his denouncement. "I'm sorry Zhaan."
"For what? I was a savage as well."
"It is not my place to imply such a thing about you, even if it was long ago."
"That I am a Pa'u now does not change what I was then. Do not turn away from the truth simply because of your concern for my feelings."
Silence descended for a few more minutes, then D'Argo asked Zhaan, "Did you want to go with them?"
"No, not really. I have no interest in sightseeing, even on an intergalactic scale. I only wish to return home, as you do. And, from what Leela told me, the TARDIS could well have taken far longer to get me home than Moya might."
"There were many things the Doctor did not seem to have full control over," said Rygel.
"Do you miss them, Rygel?" asked Zhaan.
"Well, I most certainly do miss him," he declared. "He's the first one around here who's ever treated me with the proper respect."
"Am I take to it then that you do not miss his company that much, dear Luxan?" asked Zhaan.
"No, not particularly. For some reason he kept calling me 'Brigadier.'"