Disclaimer: Not only are these characters not mine, but if SACC or Oboe Crazy asks, this was written by my Evil Twin Skippy.
Rating: PG ?
Time: Obviously at the end of Farscape.
Archiving: A little reverse psychology, perhaps? No, never. No matter how many beers you give me, no one but Kiki and Perri can have this.
I fell hard, but managed to take the force of the fall on my shoulder and roll. When I stopped, all I could see in front of me was a green blur. I raised my head and the blur got bigger. I reached for my pulse pistol, but it was gone. Suddenly, I heard a moan to one side of me. I levered myself up and could see a black and red blur a little way from me.
"John. Is that you?"
"'Fraid so, Sunshine. What the Hezmana happened to us? I feel like I broke everything."
I crawled over to John and started checking him by feel. His pistol was gone, too. No broken bones, no blood, and all the parts seemed to be there and working. We seemed to be all right, but I didn't feel any better about this.
"It must have been an explosion, John. I remember a huge flash of light and then we landed, well here. Where ever we are now."
In spite of my protests, John managed to sit up. I held onto him as tightly as I dared, since he might be injured. After a few microts, my vision started to clear.
"John, we're on a planet. Grass, trees, water…"
"Yeah. I can see now, too, Aeryn. God, it looks enough like Earth to be Earth."
Another voice interrupted us. "Close enough, Snake. It's not Earth, but it is as close as you'll ever get."
John craned his neck around. "Danny, is that you? Damn. It is."
In spite of my protests, John stood up shakily and headed for the other human.
"Danny, am I glad to see you. How did you get here? When….."
John stopped just in front of the other human and took a step back.
"Danny. It can't be you. A year before Farscape lifted off….I mean I saw….I went to your funeral. Danny you're dead."
"Welcome to the club, Snake."
I looked into John's eyes. He was frightened. He pulled me towards him and held me so tightly I would have complained if I hadn't been scared, too. John didn't say anything, so I decided I had to.
"John, the bright light. The people you knew who went before. I think we're dead."
John turned and stared at me. He tried to talk, but nothing came out.
Danny laughed. "The lady is right, Snake. Smart and beautiful. Your taste is improving. The disorientation isn't uncommon. Most of us found death to be more than a little traumatic. That's why they have someone you know and trust standing by. Well, of course, there's your Dad's buddy Gagarin. Totally relaxed when he got here. Wasn't at all upset about being dead. It took him about five minutes to remember he didn't believe in an afterlife. Then he freaked out."
Danny stopped, as if he expected a reply or a question from us. I didn't have any, and apparently neither did John. Danny continued.
"Basically, this is more like Earth than you probably imagined. Notice, no white robes, no harps, no wings and no halos. And no wispy clouds to sit on either. Everything pretty much looks just like the Earth you knew and loved."
Danny looked around with a puzzled expression on his face.
"I can't imagine why no one showed up to help your girlfriend. Believe me, this sort of thing just doesn't happen. Not here. Who is she, Snake?"
John finally managed to get a reply out. "Danny, this is Aeryn Sun. "
Danny gave me a strange look.
"John. She's not human. She's a Sebacean."
John moved to place himself between Danny and me.
"What difference does that make, Danny?"
"All the difference in the world, John. Or maybe I should say all of the difference in Heaven. There are rules, John. She doesn't belong here and you do. Sorry, but that's the way it is."
John was starting to back us away from Danny.
"Danny, I don't care what the rules say. I am never going to agree to let Aeryn leave here, at least not without me. Forget about it. We're here and we're staying. Together. End of discussion."
Danny's smile had faded. "John, you don't know what you're talking about. You just can't do this."
John tried another tack. "Danny. Work with me on this. This is important to me, believe me. There has to be something we can do. An appeal process. Something."
Danny scratched his head. "An appeal? Just a sec, Snake, let me check in."
He glanced away for a second.
"An appeal it is, John. I don't know what good you think it'll do. Go over to the school and see Miss Grayson. "
I didn't like John's expression. "Miss Grayson! You've got to be kidding me. You knew her. You know what she's like. This isn't an appeal, it's a railroad station."
Danny spread his hands. "You wanted an appeal. That's what you got. Take it or leave it, Snake."
"Okay, Danny. Okay." John looked scared. I felt scared.
"You can find the school, Snake? Right?"
"Sure, Danny. I'll find it."
"Okay. I'll meet you later after this is over and get you settled in, John."
John took my hand and turned away from Danny. He glanced back over his shoulder. "Like Hell, Danny."
We started walking across the park. If this was what Earth was like, it was truly beautiful. But deep down I was frightened. It had been hard enough to allow myself to feel emotions, let alone learn to enjoy emotions, but now I was faced with an afterlife I was totally unprepared for. Under no circumstances could I allow John to see that I was frightened. Concerned, perhaps, but never frightened. I turned to him.
"John, who's this Miss Grayson? Is she, well, were you and she, I mean…" Frell. I couldn't quite finish the question.
"Miss Grayson was my eighth grade math teacher. She was the toughest teacher I ever had. She was the toughest teacher anybody had. Nothing was ever good enough for her. No matter what you did, she criticized it."
"Did you do poorly in her class?"
"I got straight A's in math that year, and more detention from that class than in all the rest of my educational career. Miss Grayson and I didn't get along."
I walked along beside John. I had known instructors as a Peacekeeper who I thought were like Miss Grayson. I wasn't sure I could translate my experiences to John's, though.
"John, why did Danny call you Snake? A snake is a legless Earth reptile of some sort, isn't it?"
"It's not important, Aeryn. Forget it."
I stopped. John stopped and turned to look at me.
"How do you know it's not important, John? Please, John. This could be important. And it'll make me feel better if you tell me."
John stared at the ground for a few microts. Without looking at me, he explained.
"Danny's younger brother, Ed, was a friend of mine in high school. He got a couple of cases of beer when we were about sixteen and invited a bunch of us over when his parents were out of town. I got so drunk I couldn't walk. I could crawl, though. So for a while, my name was Snake. For some reason, Danny always liked that name for me."
John paused for a microt.
"See, I said it wasn't important."
Well, it was to me. "You became incapacitated on alcohol? When you were sixteen cycles?"
"Didn't you ever get drunk, Aeryn."
I shook my head. "Peacekeepers aren't allowed to lose control. Nor would we want to. "
For the first time since we had arrived here, John smiled.
"Perhaps, after we straighten this out, I can show you a little creative loss of control, Sunshine."
We arrived at the school. The schoolyard filled with many human children. They lacked the discipline and order that a similar group of Peacekeepers of the same age would have shown. Their games seemed chaotic and purposeless. And fun.
John stopped in front of a door and peered in.
"Don't stand in the doorway gawking, young man. Come in, both of you."
The speaker was a female human who looked no older than John. She was slender and had short brown hair and a scowl. She gestured to a pair of chairs.
"Sit, you two."
We sat while she pulled out a large book and started studying. Suddenly she looked up at John, very sharply.
"John Crichton. Sit up straight and don't fidget. Miss Sun, at least, sits properly."
John started to talk. "Miss Grayson. Aeryn and I are here….."
She interrupted him. "I know why you're here, John. Please don't interrupt me again."
After a few dozen more microts she closed the book and returned it to her desk drawer.
She folded her hands in front of her and looked at us. "As I thought, John. There are no exceptions. Heaven is for humans. I am sorry, but those are the rules. Now I'm afraid we'll have to see about getting Miss Sun to where she belongs."
I glanced at John. He looked like he was about to lose his temper, so I spoke up.
"I beg your pardon, Miss Grayson. But this is obviously where I belong."
Miss Grayson stared at me. I had to rush on before she got over the shock of being contradicted.
"As I understand it, the human God is all knowing and all powerful. Therefore, if I am here, which I am, then it's because I'm supposed to be here. There are trillions and trillions of intelligent life forms in the Universe. I haven't seen Delvians, or Hynerians, or Luxans, or any other race arriving here. Have representatives of any other race ever arrived here? I rather suppose it's not common if they do. But from what John's told me, I can't imagine I'm here because of a mistake."
Miss Grayson looked shocked, but took her book back out. She spent a longer time studying it and then took out several more books. She spent the next several arns studying them.
Finally she spoke. "I'm glad to see that you have finally seen the virtues of an intelligent young lady, John. I could never understand your attraction for that Mary Louise Denner, when Lori Colvin was so obviously interested in you. Be that as it may, I was right that there are no precedents for a non-human to come her. However, Miss Sun is correct that no non-human has ever come here, nor is there any precedent for removing someone who is already here."
John and I smiled at each other. Briefly.
"That means", she continued, "that there is no precedent either way. So, a decision will have to be made at a higher level. You will be notified of the next hearing."
John and I sat there smiling at each other until she broke in again.
"You are dismissed, John. You too, Miss Sun."
We walked out of the classroom and found Danny waiting.
"I think the lady is too good for you, Snake. You never got the best of Miss Grayskull."
John smiled and took my hand. He held it tightly.
"There's no one like Aeryn Sun, Danny. But this isn't over yet. What's next? Do you know?"
Danny looked away briefly. "Go to your Grandpa Crichton's house for the night. You'll be seeing Coach Santorini tomorrow. Get some rest, Snake, Miss Sun. You'll need it."
John groaned. "Santorini? Why don't they just being in Scorpy and get it over with?"
Danny grinned at John and winked at me. "You wanted an appeal, right?"
When he'd left, I turned to John. "Who is this Santorini person? What did he coach you in?"
John let out a breath slowly. "He was my high school baseball coach. My senior year, we had the best team he ever had in thirty-two years of coaching. We got to the State Championships and were up 3-1 with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning. Runners were on first and third, and I got a soft grounder hit right at me. All I had to do was grab it and toss it to the second baseman for the force and we won the game. But I bobbled the ball and dropped it. When I threw the ball, I screwed up and threw it past the second baseman. The runner was safe and the guy on third scored. The next batter hit a home run and we lost the game. Santorini never forgave me."
John had explained baseball to me before, but all I understood was that his team had lost because of him.
"But, if your explanation of Heaven is right, he can't hold that against you, or me, can he?"
" I don't know, Aeryn. I just don't know."
I decided I had better change the subject. "Who is this Masy Loose person and this Lori?"
John grinned. But he still held my hand tightly. "Mary Louise Denner was my girlfriend in the eighth grade. She was the first girl I ever kissed."
I did my best to glower at John. "She was a blonde, I imagine."
John grinned again. "Guilty as charged, Aeryn. But, Lori had a crush on me and she had hair as black as yours. She was the smartest person in school. The only one who didn't let Miss Grayson get to her, in fact. I've learned my lesson, though. I'll take black hair and intelligence every time, now. But only if she's Sebacean, too."
He leaned forward and kissed me lightly on the cheek. "We're home, Sunshine."
Home was a large two-story structure made from some sort of ceramic blocks and vegetable products. John ran up the stairs and pushed a device by the door. A musical note could be heard inside. The door opened and a man threw his arms around John.
"Johnny, we've been expecting you. Come in, come in."
The man was no older than John as far as I could tell. When we got inside, there was a woman waiting for us.
"Johnny, this is your mom's grandmother, Carol. You've never met, but she dying to meet you." He smiled. "Oops. We shouldn't use "dying to meet you", I guess."
The three stood there and discussed the family. John's mother, other family and friends, would be there in a few days. One thing about Eternity, it gave you a lot of time.
Suddenly John pulled me close to him. "I need to introduce my wife, Aeryn Sun. Aeryn, this is my grandfather and great-grandmother. Gramps, Great Grandma, this is Aeryn."
It was obvious from their reactions that they knew all about us, and all about my problem staying here. I tried to pull away from John, but he wouldn't let me.
I felt embarrassed. "John, under the circumstances, where we are and all…"
John cut me off. "Aeryn, as far as I'm concerned, you're my wife. We agreed to stay together always, right? We said there would never be anyone else for either of us. We talked about having children if we were ever able to get some peace and quiet. What are we, if not man and wife?"
I didn't know how to reply, but John's grandfather broke in.
"Whatever, John. You're both our guests right now." He turned to me. "I hope you're a meat and potatoes kind of girl, Aeryn. Come on, its dinner time."
The food was good, if unfamiliar. John told his family about our life in the Uncharted Territories. I noticed he made an effort to put me in the best possible light, even if it meant bending the truth. I tried to correct him, with no success. I decided it wasn't worth an argument.
After more conversation and listening to some Earth music, we went upstairs to bed.
John put his arms around me and kissed me lightly. "I think I'd like a nice hot shower with my wife, now. How about it, Aeryn?"
I stared at John for a microt. "John. I can't share a shower with you. You know I can't get too hot, and you complain about how cold the water…"
John was laughing and I suddenly understood why. " I don't have to worry about dying of the Sebacean Heat Delirium now, do I?"
John turned the shower on and we helped each other out of our clothes. John stepped into the shower. I could hardly see him for the steam. He held out his hand.
"Don't worry, Aeryn. I'll keep a close eye on you. For more reasons than one. If you have any problems, I'll have you out of the shower in no time."
I was apprehensive about the heat, but John put his arms around me and started rubbing the soap over my body. I forgot my fears quickly enough.
"Hmmm. That does feel good, John. It is too bad that we couldn't do this before. You do seem to be doing a good job."
"I just want to make sure you're all there, Sunshine."
"All there? Why wouldn't I be all there. Is there something you haven't told me?"
John laughed and kissed my ear. "At one time humans believed that there was no sex in Heaven. You didn't even keep the necessary equipment once you got here. I can now assure you that isn't the case."
"Humans called that Paradise? I'm starting to worry about humans again, John."
I reached for John to confirm his statement. "Everything seems to be just the way I left it, John."
John pulled me closer and trapped my hand against his body. Yes, everything was perfect.
We toweled each other off after the shower. John picked me up and carried me to the bed. He gently put me down on the bed and I looked up at him very sternly.
"John, I'm perfectly capable of walking, and I hate to be taken care of."
John just laughed and threw himself down next to me. "I just want you in good shape so we can be sure we haven't lost anything, so to speak."
I giggled. Something I usually didn't do. "And how do you find my shape?"
"God, Aeryn. You are the most beautiful, most exciting…."
The rest of the sentence was lost as John found other uses for his mouth.
I woke up next morning with John staring at me. I rolled over and stared back until we both started laughing.
We got dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. By the time I had discovered orange juice, John was nervous again. He looked around as if he expected a squad to burst in and tear me away. Three times he jumped at noises outside and once he got up and looked out the window.
When we got up to leave, John's grandfather and great grandmother stopped us. Grandpa put his hands on my shoulders.
"Aeryn. Carol and I have been talking about you and John. How you look at each other, how you finish each other's sentences, how you laugh at what the other says. And mostly about what John told us of your times in the Uncharted Territories. This won't help with the appeal, but welcome to the family, Mrs. Crichton."
The two of them hugged me and I could see they were starting to cry. So was John. Hezmana. I was starting to cry, too.
We managed to get out of the house and on our way to the park again. From John's description, I recognized the baseball field. We stopped by a bulky, dark haired human I assumed was the Coach.
He turned to John, ignoring me. "Crichton. How lucky can I get? I know you can't field for beans. Do you think you've learned to hit a curve ball yet?"
I don't think this was the appeal John was expecting, but he handled it. "I can. If you want to see me hit, I'll hit anything you want."
Coach Santorini smiled and called out to a dark skinned man standing near us. "Leroy. Go throw a few to our renowned curve ball hitter here. Think you can throw one by him?"
Leroy just smiled and headed for a small dirt hill in the center of the playing surface.
The coach walked behind a metal mesh enclosure behind John. I followed. Leroy made some sort of a complicated looking move and threw the ball to a man squatting behind John. I could tell immediately that John was swinging too soon and slightly above the ball. The ball was thrown back to Leroy and he threw it again with the same results. This time John asked to look at the ball.
"Hey, Leroy. You aren't messing with the ball, are you?"
Leroy laughed again. " I never threw an illegal pitch. The trouble was, once in a while I would toss one that ain't been seen by this generation."
The coach yelled at John. "You don't ask that kind of a question here, Crichton. Now hit one, will you."
I glared at the coach and yelled to John. "John, you're swinging too soon and above the ball."
John smiled at me, but my advice did no good. John missed the third time.
The coach gestured with his thumb to John. "Steeee-rike threeee. Get outta there, Crichton. And take your batting coach with you. She doesn't know any more about baseball than you do."
That angered me. "I may not know about baseball, but I could certainly hit those balls."
The coach laughed and I got angrier. "I can hit them, but I doubt that you can."
He laughed again. "Okay, lady. Go hit a few."
John was still standing by the home dish, or whatever, when I got there. "Aeryn, I don't think that you can hit this guy. I think I know who he is, and you don't…."
I interrupted John with a kiss and then a smile. By that time he had nothing more to say.
"John, I don't know this game, but I do know my Sebacean eyesight, strength and reactions. Believe me I can hit any balls this human throws."
John gave me a few microts of instruction in the art of hitting and I was ready. Leroy called out to me. "Ready lady?"
Leroy threw and I saw before it got halfway to me that it would miss what John had called the strike zone. I let it pass.
"Way to look it in, Aeryn." I assumed that meant something to humans, but I couldn't say what.
I saw that the second throw was moving away from me, but would go through the strike zone. I swung and the ball bounced off my bat and skipped off to the left of me.
"Good swing, Aeryn. Good one."
Leroy smiled at me and looked at the new ball the man behind me had thrown him. "Okay, Miss. I went a little too easy on you. Try this one."
I could see the next throw was faster than anything he had previously thrown, but wasn't moving laterally. I swung at it and saw the ball streak ten feet to the side of Leroy and land in the grass behind him.
I could hear John and some other people behind me yelling. I turned and smiled at John and got another round of cheers.
After Leroy had thrown a dozen or so times, I was starting to get the hang of this batting. He threw a very fast, but straight one and I managed to hit it over a wall at the end of the field. This seemed to impress John and the other people watching.
The other people watching? There hadn't been a dozen people around when John and I had arrived. Now there were thousands sitting in stands around the field. A tall, erect man walked out on the field.
"It looks like there are some people here for a baseball game. How about it, Miss Sun? Would you like to play a game?"
John came running out on the field. "Wait a minute, Judge. Aeryn doesn't know the rules or anything about the game. I don't want her hurt or looking foolish. Especially with…." John gestured towards Santorini who was clearly unhappy.
The other man thought for a second. "Crichton, you are now Miss Sun's on field coach. You stay with her and tell her what to do. Okay?" The man looked around at no one in particular. "I assume I have the authority to do that?"
John nodded. But before we could continue, a short, round-faced man ran onto the field. "Wait just a minute. This lady isn't in the proper uniform. She can't play like that." He gestured to my leather outfit.
Before anyone could say anything, the man pulled out a shirt that had the name "Mrs. Crichton" and the number one on the back. Interestingly, that got loud cheers. But none, I noticed, from Santorini.
The one John had called Judge bellowed at the little man. "Off the field, you."
The little man ran off, but over his shoulder called out, "Can she play first?"
If I thought John's creative names were confusing, I'd never figure this place out. How could I explain the nickname of the pitcher with such good balance? Or the nickname of the man who wore shoes throughout the game? But the game was fun. I got three hits, but none as good as the one I had hit over the fence. I was put out once, though. I was running to second base from first and it didn't appear to me that I would arrive before the ball. Suddenly, John yelled, "Slide, Aeryn." I stopped and turned to him. "Slide what, John?" The thrown ball bounced off the human at second base he was laughing so hard, but he picked it up and touched me with it before I could touch the bag.
At the end of the game, Santorini gathered around himself a group of four men in blue suits who had been interpreting the rules for us. John objected. "Umpires? You bring in umpires to review my wife's case? What is this?"
One of the umpires, a tall, very thin man who spoke with the unusual accent that John sometimes adopted, replied to John. "Don't you fret, Bucko. You've got one Who's Yar on your side and the rest of these folk will see you done right, if the law allows."
The skinny umpire turned to me. "Do you have anything to say in your own behalf Mrs. Crichton?"
John seemed reassured by the umpire, so I decided that I should state my case.
"I was born a Peacekeeper. I assume that my soul was a Peacekeeper soul, although we didn't believe such things existed. I lived as a Peacekeeper for many years and I was the best Peacekeeper I could be. I obeyed my superiors and never questioned an order. And I certainly never felt any emotion, with one brief exception, for the whole time I was a Peacekeeper."
I noticed that I had the complete attention of all the humans around me.
"That changed when I met John. Changed radically. I was confronted with a belief system unlike anything I had ever been exposed to. I was also confronted with a weak, ignorant, foolish and thoroughly disturbing being, John Crichton. I discovered that this being and his philosophy, a philosophy that I had been taught to despise, functioned well in the Uncharted Territories. I also discovered that when an ex-Peacekeeper was ready to die, the human and his philosophy were just getting started. I discovered that he was right. I could be more. I could be compassionate to all of my fellow beings. I could be curious about the Universe about me. I discovered that I could change the Universe and also change myself. I discovered that I could love another more than life itself. I discovered the great joy that comes with that unconditional love. I discovered John Crichton, and I have become more. I believe I have become human and am here now because of that change to my soul."
I stepped back and put my arm around John. The skinny umpire smiled at me. That seemed to reassure John and we watched while the umpires went a little bit away and deliberated. I noticed that the other human players all seemed to favor allowing me to stay. I was having trouble understanding them, though. I whispered to John. "What's an industrial action, John."
"Shhh. Aeryn. I think they've made a decision."
They had. The chief umpire, a human with red hair tied at the nape of his neck addressed us.
"Mrs. Crichton, my principle is to do whatever is right and leave the consequences to Him who has the disposal of them. But here I find that the principle of right is not clear. There is no precedent for a non-human being here, but there is also no precedent for forcing someone already here to leave. My colleagues and I were much impressed by your address concerning your immortal soul. It is our decision that you should meet with the Adjudicator tomorrow so that he may examine your soul and fix your proper place in the Universe."
That seemed to satisfy the humans around us. Many came by to wish us well, shake our hands or clap us on our shoulders. Once I felt someone slap my bottom. I turned around, furious, only to find a certain blue eyed human astronaut trying to look very innocent.
"Crichton, perhaps its time I knocked you on your butt again."
John laughed. "Promises, promises, Aeryn."
It was dark by the time we got home. We ate and went up to bed shortly thereafter.
I snuggled up against John. "I want you to know just how much I meant the speech I made to the umpires, John. Knowing you was worth whatever may happen to us."
John drew me close. "I love you, Aeryn. That sounds so inadequate, somehow. I wish I had the words to tell you how I feel about you."
I giggled again. That was so unlike me, but I didn't care. "Perhaps you can show me?"
We woke up the next morning still wrapped around each other. We took another hot shower and hoped it wouldn't be our last. I opened my closet and was shocked.
"John. Someone's put clothes for me in here."
The night before, I had hung up my leathers in an otherwise empty closet. Now the closet was full of Earth type clothes. I glanced across the room at John's closet. His was full, too.
I grinned at him. "Maybe this is a good omen. I wouldn't need new clothes if I didn't stay here."
John didn't smile back. "My clothes look like stuff I left behind when I left Earth and I think yours are from the family, too. I know the white dress was my Mom's."
I took out the white dress. I wasn't sure how human clothing was supposed to fit, but I thought it would fit me.
"All right, if you think it's all right, I'll wear this one." I started to put it on.
That got a smile from John. "Aeryn. Dressing like a human woman is a little harder than it looks. Let me help you."
John opened a drawer and began removing various pieces of rather flimsy clothing. Finally, he had what I suppose you needed to dress like a human woman and he started to help me get dressed.
"John, I can do…" I decided I liked being helped. "..that if you help me."
The clothing felt strange on me, but most of the shoes proved to be impossible. How could Earth women walk with their heels held off the ground? We did find a pair a flat soled shoes.
"John. How much experience do you have helping human women into their clothes?"
"Actually, Sunshine, my experience is mostly in helping them out of their clothes. But I'm a changed man. I only help Sebacean ladies now."
"Promises, promises, John."
We went down stairs to breakfast. If he had been jumpy yesterday, today John seemed to be positively ready to climb the walls now. But John's Grandfather seemed subdued. We ate quickly and got ready to for our meeting with the Adjudicator. When we left, I got a hug from Grandpa who repeatedly called me "Mrs. Crichton." I hoped it helped.
In a few minutes we were back at the park where we had arrived. I could see two men sitting together in a grove of trees with something between them.
John stopped and turned to face me. "Aeryn, I don't know how this is going to work out. We could end up in human Hell, or in Peacekeeper Heaven, doing pushups and field-stripping pulse rifles for eternity. We might simply disappear. I want to know…"
I decided I had heard enough. "I've never said good-bye to you John Crichton, and I'm not starting now. Remember, there's nothing we can't overcome together."
John smiled and kissed me. I kissed back and tried not to make it feel like I thought it might be our last kiss.
When we got to the two men, I saw they were playing chess. One was a short, slender human with dark skin and hair. He made a move on the board and turned to us. His opponent paid no attention to us.
"Ah. I see you are prompt. And, young man, I see you have a standard human soul, one size fits all, Mark One. The young lady does not, of course. But it is an interesting…."
John cut him off. "That's it? You glance at us and decide Aeryn doesn't have a human soul? That's bullshit."
John took me by the arm and started to back away. "We're out of here, Aeryn. I am not giving you up."
The Adjudicator grinned at his partner. "I'd love to know where they think they might go from here, my friend."
That must have occurred to John since he stopped moving backwards. "I'll think of something and if I don't Aeryn will. That's the way we work."
The Adjudicator took a step toward us. "You will both stay here, Mr. and Mrs. Crichton."
That confused both of us. John reacted first.
"I thought you said Aeryn didn't have a human soul? And wouldn't that mean…."
The Adjudicator took another step towards us. "Your wife does not have a human soul, Mr. Crichton. But, strictly speaking she does not have a non-human soul. She certainly does not have a Peacekeeper soul, such as they are. Nor does she have a Sebacean soul in any correct sense of the term. Her soul certainly isn't Hynerian, or Delvian, or Nabari, or any of the uncounted trillions of races in the Universe. But, she has a soul and has to go somewhere and she's here. So here she stays. Really, it's the simplest solution, don't you think?"
John looked embarrassed. "Thank you, sir. I, er, probably shouldn't have said, well, you know."
The Adjudicator smiled. "In my youth my opponents trained me as a lawyer. I'm afraid that even I might have said a word or two that I regret as a result."
The Adjudicator's chess opponent joined the conversation. "I think you will find young man, and young lady, that God has sense of humor, but is not capricious."
The adjudicator smiled at his friend. "If I had no sense of humor, I should long ago have committed suicide."
The friend moved one of the pieces. "I believe I will checkmate you in five moves."
The Adjudicator waved us away and returned to his chessboard.
John and I walked out of the grove of trees in something of a state of shock.
"John, what will we do now?"
John pulled me close and bent to my ear. "I think I need to find an engagement ring and wedding rings. And a wedding gown. And a place to rent a tux. And find a church. And send out invitations. And a few million other things."
Well, if John hadn't thought of something, I would have. That's the way we work.
Author's note: At the Creation Con at Burbank they had a recreation of THE scene in The Flax. There were some extra lines added as far as I could tell. When they're discussing the human afterlife, Aeryn asks if it's only for humans and John replies that if it is, he doesn't want to go. And there we have the start of a fanfic.
Oh, did you recognize anyone?