Farscraps #3_1

Title: Tides
Author: Karolyn Gray <kmgray3@aol.com>
Summary: An alternate universe ending for the Look at The Princess Trilogy; set some 88-130 cycles into the future.


"Tides ebb,
Tides flow,
The force of the Sun,
The Moon,
The Whole."


Part 1 "Tides ebb"

She watched them from the shaded terrace, unseen from their eyes by the mass of colorful foliage that covered nearly every henta of the marble pillars and stone masonry. The most delicate of smells emanated from the bright blossoms numbering in many vivid hues of pinks, red, and blues, each blossom as unique and yet the same as her people, her plant, was.

But none of this really mattered, for even without the greenery her presence would have gone unnoticed as their eyes were fixed skyward this cool, crisp day. Fixed upon the growing number of clouds. Clouds that were dark with what surely was going to be a heavy precipitation by nightfall.

An unusually strong gust of wind tugged at her gown. She frowned slight with some growing concern as she realized the winds would become increasingly stronger. Another gust struck her, this one carrying the sound of laughter and shouted words that were too garbled for her t hear clearly. Looking down to the source of these happy sounds she could not help but smile at what she saw.

Her husband was now kneeling next to their young son, a sandy haired youth with a bright smile and intelligence that was a constant source of pride for her. In his hands she saw he held some strange triangular item that appeared to be made of brightly colored cloth and wood. Despite the years they had already spent together she still found her husband to wildly eccentric at times, but it was these same eccentricities that had drawn her to love him as much as their future subjects had.

And love was something she had never expected or even dared imagined she would come to feel for this man. Not after the losses they both had suffered upon awakening from their long slumber in the Senate hall. Not after both were forced to give up the very thing, the very people they loved most in their hearts to prevent her world and his friends from facing a terrible fate. And certainly not after the realization that as much as she had lost, his loss was far greater than she could imagine: he had lost hope.

For a time she thought she would loose him to the despair that taken hold in him soon upon awakening, but somehow, someway she had never discovered nor dare inquire about he had persevered and stayed with her. Always kind. Always gentle. They rarely argued on anything and then it was always concerning the state of the realm and its people, never about their family.

But in spite of all that, she saw the emptiness in his heart mirrored in his eyes. He played the role of her consort and husband, but there was always a false note tingeing his laughter and smile. The false note of one who knew his life was a fraud. She had done all she could to ensure his pain and loss were minimal, allowing him his time to tinker with his experiments and devices as much as he allowed her to grieve the loss of her true love.

And then Jellana had been born. The moment his eyes had fallen on their first-born child, she saw a spark awaken in his eyes, a new joy, that had not been there since the day he had been forced into this decision to stay with her.

Soon had followed Jasynn, their son, whom he had greeted with as much warmth and enthusiasm as he had Jellana. He spent many arns with them both telling tales of far off worlds filled with mystical creatures, heroes, and adventure. Her love for him had grown at the obvious affection and love he had for their children.

"It was worth it." She murmured to herself as she ran a hand gently across her flat belly. She could almost imagine feeling the new life-- no, new lives, she corrected herself-- within her.

She had been as shocked as the physicians to discover she carried twins, a boy and a girl, something that while rare, had become completely unheard of in the royal bloodlines for many hundreds of cycles. Unlike, Jelanna and Jasynn whom she had been artificially inseminated with, her current pregnancy was completely natural. She had defied the physicians who insisted that she allow them to be altered to ensure neither child harmed the other. This time she wanted to the children to grow naturally and without any attempt to correct what was seen as potential genetic abnormalities. This decision was as much for his sake as much as for her own. She had even chosen the children's names, as was her right.

Aeryn and Tyno. In honor of their lost loves. When she had told him the names the previous day, she feared she had lost him as his face had gone unnaturally blank and remained so for several microts. And then he had smiled sadly and kissed her, agreeing that the names were perfect before taking her to their bed. There they had made love with a passion she could not recall in any previous time they had joined in such a manner.

A shout of laughter brought her attention back to her husband and son, who both now looked skyward, their hands clasped to a around a ball of what appeared to be twine. She looked upwards as well to see the strange triangular device now floated and danced on the eddies of the wind, trailing behind it bright strips of colored cloth.

Before she even realized it she found herself walking down the stairs to the lawn below, her concern over the coming storm forgotten in her desire to join in her families happiness. When she neared he turned his eyes from the sky to meet hers and smiled. Her heart skipped a beat as she realized she saw something more than just his usual affection for her. She saw love.

They exchanged a brief kiss as Jasynn gave a quick "Hi, mommy." all the while moving the twine in his hands and giggling at its results in the object in the sky.

"Where's Jellana?" He asked as their lips separated.

"With or-Na in the nursery." She replied as she looked down at their son.

"What have you got there, Jasynn?" She asked, brushing her hand through her son's hair.

"Daddy, call's it a 'kite'." The boy replied promptly.

"A 'kite'?" She asked.

"It's a toy I used to make back home as a kid." He explained with a half shrug. "Today just reminded me of days like this back home when my mom, dad, and my sisters would go out and have a picnic and fly kites. It was fun."

She heard the hint of sadness in his voice at the retelling of his memories and quickly embraced him in a reassuring hug. She was surprised when she felt his strong arms return the gesture, his previous reserve no longer apparent. When she pulled away she saw a smile on his face, a genuine smile that held no trace of sadness or doubt or loneliness as it had once before.

"May I try this...'kite'?" She asked.

"What about our arriving guests?" He asked with obvious surprise.

"It will be several more arns before the remaining dignitaries arrive." She replied with a smile. "Besides, I wish to spend time with my family before the burden of duty makes such simple things nearly impossible."

He smiled at that and nodded. "Come on. I'll let Jasynn show you."

*****

In orbit of the planet, numerous ships dotted the blankness of space, the luminance from the planet bathing the ships in it's light and casting odd shadows along the hulls of ships both large and small, from dozens of worlds each arrayed in support of their allies. Some were peaceful, some not, but all here for the same purpose. Approaching this massing of ships came a strange fleet unlike any others that had ever approached this world, let alone been seen.

A massive vessel, colored black and red remeniscent of Peacekeeper markings, yet obvious of Leviathan heritage glided through empty space with a gracefulness and speed the belied its massive size. Behind it trailed another Leviathan nearly as large and several smaller craft that were obviously Hynerian, Delvian and Luxan in design. There were even a handful of Peace Keeper craft. Twenty vessels in all.

Small flashes of light, mere pinpricks to an observer could be seen swarming in and around the vessels. Only a close scan revealed the lights for what they were: the propulsion systems of dozens of escort fighters. It was an odd conglomeration of fighter designs from a dozen races, but one that left little doubt as to their strength and purpose.

The sight of it made the woman smile with a hint of satisfaction and pride.

Strange warbles and beeping filled the command deck, making some of the crew jump at the unusual tones they heard. For many of them the sounds meant nothing, having no affinity to the vessel they served and traveled aboard. For the older crewmembers, they kept their knowledge to themselves, knowing better than to bring up the past.

At the center of the bridge stood three beings, one a ghostly white, another a Delvian with deep blue tincture, and the third, an aged sebacean woman with long snow white hair. The woman smiled slightly, unconsciously nodding as she mentally replied to the massive ship, conveying her gratitude for his consideration.

"Is something wrong, Aeryn?" Zhaan asked, gently shifting her golden Pa'u robes silently as she rested a hand on the other woman's shoulders.

"No, Zhaan." Aeryn replied tiredly ribbing the back of her neck. "Talyn simply wished to convey his readiness to do whatever I wished of him."

The simple gesture drew the Delvian's attention to the small metal implant that could barely bee seen in most circumstances. The device that linked Aeryn to the Leviathan Talyn as it had once done for Captain Crais. It also made Zhaan very aware of how tired and wan Aeryn seemed.

While not extremely old by Sebacean standards, Aeryn was dying. Zhaan had known that the instant the journey to this place had began some four weekens ago. She had seen in the woman's blue eyes the moment they had been reunited.

Life had been hard on the ex-Peacekeeper. The many scars, both seen and unseen, and battles since their last visit had etched themselves permanently on the old woman's weathered features. The fight against the expansionist Peacekeepers and the escalating feuds with the Scarrans had been long and hard fought.

Aeryn now commanded the Free Worlds Defense Fleet, a hodgepodge of worlds and governments from across the Known Territories and the Uncharteds that had decided to stop the advance of the Peacekeepers and Scarrans before their aggression left their worlds in ashes. There had been many bloody clashes until an uneasy peace had been achieved. There were still clashes between the two forces, but since the Hynerian Empire had openly backed the Free Worlds the Peacekeepers had been more wary in starting a conflict. The Scarrans had surprisingly followed suit.

In Zhaan's opinion the pain had in the end been worth it, but it was now time for it to pass, as all things eventually did. In her heart, Zhaan knew Aeryn Sun would never leave the paradise world that awaited their presence. With luck, her friend would finally know peace.

"Captain Sun, we've achieved planetary orbit." One of the crew announced.

"Thank you." Aeryn replied. "Prepare a shuttle to take down to the surface."

"Yes, ma'am. Also, His Eminence, Dominar Rygel, has requested that he and his personal guard join you." The tech informed.

"Very well." Aeryn nodded and turned to exit the bridge.

"Do you think he's changed?" Chiana asked uncertainly, smoothing out the gray traveling cloak she had donned.

Her question brought Aeryn's attention on to the Nebari, who not for the first time in the past few weeks had noticed the changes age had wrought on the once free spirited burglar. Chiana's hair was now blacker than white, but her face had changed little: still a smooth unblemished white. With her, the changes had not been so much as physical as emotional. Gone was the brash carelessness of youth. Now there was a mature woman full of adamantine will and selflessness that would have shocked any one that had known her years on the run from the Nebari and later the Peacekeepers.

Sadness came to Aeryn's eyes as she spoke. "We've all changed, Chiana."

****


Part 2 "Tides flow."



He tread silently, lingering at the edge of crowded hall's many colorfully dressed patrons. He had no desire to be amongst them, his attire, both somber yet required to prevent his own body from destroying itself from the internal forces constantly at war in side him. In any event he had little choice in his appearance. Part of him at one time had even relished in the sense of foreboding and fear he could inspire in those around him. But no more.

He paused in his wanderings, allowing his eyes to scan the crowd of aliens before him. Dozens of species intermingled with the Sebacean population with apparent ease. All except a large looming figure across the way. A figure he recognized all too well: a Scarran. As if sensing his thoughts, which was quite possible, the Scarran turned his gray head towards him, his face contorting briefly with disgust.

Scorpius smiled in return, a cold smile calculated to anger the Scarran. Sebaceans were not the only race that held itself to genetic purity standards. The Scarrans were much the same in that regards. Their two species were not dissimilar and that in and of itself caused much of the conflict between the two.

The Scarran frowned, but nodded solicitously as his position as ambassador tot his world required him to do during such a time. Satisfied at having metaphorically drawn first blood from the Scarran, Scorpius turned and continued his lonely walk, his eyes scanning the crowd for familiar faces. He did not have long to wait as mere microts later a herald announced the arrival of those he sought.

A wave of startled whispers rippled through the crowd at the announcement, even the aged and dying Empress and her Regent turning their gaze to the large doors with stunned expressions upon their faces.

After all, it wasn't often that a living legend graced their presence.

****

Dressed in a fashion not dissimilar to the Peacekeepers, Aeryn Sun swept her gaze over the crowd before settling her eyes on those of the Empress. She felt more than heard or saw her companions bow their heads to the elderly monarch, but she remained ramrod straight. Only a sharp nod was any indication of acknowledgement to the Empress she was willing to give. She certainly would not bow to the woman who had robbed her of her greatest joy in life.

As they descended the stair, Aeryn took in the hall noting little about the place had seemed to change over the cycles. She felt oddly relived about that, though she knew it was ridiculous. The soft hum of a thrones led let her know of her new companion.

"Hmm. Hasn't changed much. Has it?" Rygel noted.

"No, it hasn't." Aeryn agreed. She glanced over at the Royal Hynerian beside her only to find him watching her with genuine concern on his face. Since regaining his thrown, Aeryn had heard the Hynerian royal had made many sweeping philanthropic changes on his home world. Changes that had earned him the fanatical devotion of the common people and the enmity of many of the royal bloodlines, hence the constant presence of a bodyguard that now stealthily slid into place by the Dominar.

"Captain." Rygel paused as if uncertain how to proceed. Finally shrugging the Dominar of Hyneria pressed onward. "Aeryn, Are you all right?"

"No." Aeryn replied honestly. "But thank you for your concern, Sparky."

Rygel's amused chuckle at the old nickname did nothing to drown out the angry hiss of his personal protector. Aeryn cast a curious gaze at the guard, noting the strange combination of delicate, almost sebacean features and Luxan tentacles. Though not particularly large by Luxan standards the ease and grace with which he moved left little doubt on his ability to protect his royal charge.

"And how have you been, Jothee?" Aeryn asked, an ever so slight smile coming to her face.

"I have been well, Captain Sun." He replied gruffly. "Word of your courage has reached us even on far Hyneria."

Aeryn couldn't suppress a chuckle at the Jothee's words. It was an old joke between those who had survived those trying times that seemed as if were only yesterday, the tens of cycles that had passed. "And I'm sure his Eminence has a few suggestions as to how we could have been more successful if he had been there t over see the campaigns."

"But of course, Captain." Rygel nodded imperiously, the mirthful glint in his eyes the only indication he was joking.

"Bragging about assaulting a plate of food cubes, Froglips?" Another laughing voice threw in.

"Hmm. Some things never change." Rygel muttered in disgust as Chiana and Zhaan joined them.

"Yes, well one thing has sure changed. You sure know how to get attention, Aeryn." Chiana replied. She glanced around them, her eyes darting here and there as if searching the crowd. "They say Princess Katralla and her family joined the guests while attention was on our arrival."

Zhaan instantly noted the pain that flashed through Aeryn's eyes despite the stoic smile that remained on her face at the mention of the Princess. "I'm sure they felt no introduction was needed. After all, our purpose for being here is to celebrate the coronation of the new Empress. Let us put aside our concerns and enjoy what time we may have here."

"Agreed, we..." A peal of child's laughter interrupted Aeryn, who turned to the source of the sound only to feel something run into her, staggering a few steps back. She felt hands, a child's hands; grab her as if afraid she may stumble to her knees.

"I'm sorry. Are you all right?"

"Yes, I'm fine." She replied more gruffly than she intended as she pulled away from the young child before her. Taking a good look she could see the boy face was stricken with shame and concern. His clothing instantly identified him as a member of the royal family, his blond hair cropped short and his blue eyes clearly conveying every thought in the child's head to those who looked at him.

"Jasynn! There you are!" Jasynn winced at the approaching blue skinned woman who called his name in a hissed, but angry whisper. "You are not supposed to wander off. You parents will be greatly displeased with both of us should you get into trouble."

"But, ro-Na I just wanted to see the dign..the dign...the people." Jasynn protested. A familiar devilish smile came to the boys face as he turned to Aeryn again. A smile Aeryn had long associated with someone else. "Besides, I was talking to uh..."

Aeryn couldn't help but smile at the boy's attempt to justify his action to what was obviously his caretaker. "Captain Aeryn Sun." She supplied helpfully. She was surprised as the boy's expression changed to that of one of awe.

"Captain Sun." ro-Na looked stricken in abject terror with whom her charge had been speaking. Though she knew the Captain's reputation was a noble one, it would not do for young Jasynn to associate with such people without supervision. "My apologies. We shall leave you now."

With that ro-Na tugged on Jasynn's arm, the eight-cycle sebacean boy resisting all attempts to retreat back into the crowd. ro-Na hissed impatiently. "Come, Jasynn, before your pare...."

"Ro-Na! There you are. I see you found Jasynn."

The blue skinned Jakensh visibly winced at the voice and the little boy was instantly jumping into the arms of the man that approached them with a cry of "Daddy!"

For Aeryn it was if time had stopped as her eyes locked with his azure blue. In that moment it seemed she had slipped back into time to the day she had last seen him. He looked exactly as he had when she remembered him. A wave of desperate longing swept over her as all the feelings she had buried all these cycles came crashing against the barriers she had locked them behind.

She noted John Crichton's face pale considerably and he suddenly seemed very shaky. After a moment he regained his composure turning to a handful of guards that had escaped Aeryn's attention. "Leito, please inform the Empress and Princess that I am retiring from tonight's gathering."

"But, sir. The Empress..."

"Will have to wait." Crichton finished adamantly. Leito paused his expression clearly indicating his disapproval before he nodded once to another guard, who quickly hurried away.

"Please come with me." John said, finally breaking eye contact with Aeryn as he turned and headed towards a nearby passageway.

As they approached the passageway, a dark figure separated itself from the shadows of a nearby column, his dark leather like costume, pasty, almost skeletal features instantly bringing a flash of recognition to the soon to be Regents eyes.

"Ah, John. How could to see you again." Scorpius waved his hand cheerily, his voice light and yet carrying a touch of menace.

"Scorpius." John spat out in disgust. He looked over his old nemesis, noting with some disgust that time had seemed to done little change the Peacekeeper scientist. Perhaps a bit more frail looking, but nothing more. He still looked as sinister as John remembered him. "I trust you are enjoying the festivities."

"Oh, quite." The Scarran half-breed replied with a smile. "After all, it is not often that I get to reacquaint myself with an old...colleague."

At John's smile, Scorpius seemed suddenly nervous at this unexpected reaction. The human raised his head slightly an arrogant expression coming to his face. "Colleagues? You are, at best, a subject and at worst, a guest of the royal family, Scorpius. Conduct yourself accordingly."

With that Crichton continued onward past the now openly gaping scientist. As the rest of the entourage passed him, Scorpius noticed more than one smirk cast his way, but none rivaled the out right sinister glee Aeryn Sun shot his way.

Scorpius felt the presence of the other, moments before a slight wave of dizziness struck him. Recognizing it for what it was, he instantly threw up his mental blocks. He turned and growled at the creature beside him. "What do you want, Scarran?"

"It seems we have a mutual enemy, Peacekeeper." The Scarran Ambassador replied.

Scorpius snorted in derision. "The renegade Sun? I think not. Her health is poor and she obviously near her end."

"Was not talking about Aeryn Sun." The Scarran replied. "You know who I mean. I believe we may come to a resolution beneficial to both our peoples."

Scorpius repressed his initial reaction to laugh in the face of the Scarran's words. He was admittedly intrigued by what the Scarran considered to be a solution to the problem of John Crichton. After all, it was widely known that Crichton actively supported the Independent Colonies position of strict neutrality in regards to both the Scarrans and the Peacekeepers. A situation neither group could tolerate any longer with the rise of the Free Worlds movement.

"I'm listening."

****


Part 3 "The force of the Sun"

Scorpy schemes to gain the Wormhole tech with the help of the Scarrans, while the Scarrans simply plant to kill off the entire Royal family.
John and the gang talk.


****


Part 4 "The Moon"

Kidnapping attempt fails; Scarran tries to kill John & Katralla. Scorpius & Aeryn saves them but Aeryn dies, but not before convincing John and Katralla to support the Free Worlds. Scorpius discovers members of Central Command were in on plot to kill the Royal family, devotes his time to reforming PKs.


****


Epilogue "The Whole"

An old man, dressed in simple tunic, pants and sandaled feet shuffled slowly through the meandering pathway of the garden. A few steps behind him, unnoticed or perhaps simply ignored a regal looking woman with long flowing blonde hair followed escorted by two men in uniforms.

Occasionally the old man would stop to admire a particular bed of flowers, leaning down carefully to inhale their delicate scent over that of the trim, emerald grass that permeated this place.

Finally the old one came to a simple marble slab atop which sat a torch; it's flame burning brightly in the waning sunlight of approaching dusk. There he sat on the stone bench that faced the old memorial marker and watched the flame, remembering.

It had been fifty cycles. Fifty cycles since he had last seen her. So much had changed since then. He had kept his promise to her, the only promise he had ever made in his life that really had meant a damn to him. Nothing had surpassed his desire to fulfill it. Not his oath to his wife. Not his children. Not his friends. Not even the hope of returning home to Earth one last time.

And he had succeeded.

Out there, beyond the solar system his new home resided in a massive fleet was on patrol, protecting his people and their allies from the would be conquerors of the Uncharted. Even the Peacekeepers had begun to curtail their activities, concentrating now on an internal struggle for their own future. A struggle between the old ways and the new.

It was not without some irony that he had Scorpius to thank for this. Though he knew not how or why, the Scarran half-breed, had become a major prominent in the reorganization of the Peacekeepers, the leading figure it what was being called the Reformist Faction. A faction that had been for many cycles as an amusing fringe group. Now the very mention of the Reformists made the old guard of First Command tremble in fear as their popularity continued to soar not only with the general populace but amongst the Peacekeeper Corps' own troops. Even now concessions were being made to meet the Reformist agenda and so some semblance of peace was had along the {Peacekeeper territories.

John wasn't sure it would be enough to change the Peacekeepers, but for now it was enough. After all, nearly two thousand years of blood and oppression could not be erased over night.
And that led now to the Scarrans.

After a brief, but bloody conflict between the Peacekeepers and the Scarrans over their duplicity with the Independent colonies, the Scarrans and their allies had soon found themselves at odds with many an old foe, who no longer feared that the Empress might aide them. Dozens of conflicts erupted in the wake of the attempted murder of Katralla and the death of Aeryn Sun.

Conflicts John admittedly at first had not wanted to seen ended peacefully, only desiring revenge on the Scarrans for taking Aeryn away from him before he really had a chance to say good bye. In the end though it had been his son, on a short visit on Talyn that had awakened his conscious and desire for peace. He remembered all too well his son, Tyno's simple question.

"Why don't they just talk instead of hurt each other?"

In that instant he had vowed to end the conflicts. It had taken some time, more time than he really cared to consider and with more failures than he cared to remember, but he had been successful in quelling the worst of the conflicts. He had never considered himself much of a diplomat, but somehow he was able to convince these disparate cultures to listen to his ideas. The funniest part of all, they *did* listen to him.

So here he was now, an old man. A respected diplomat, beloved ruler and father and in the last ten cycles a respected scientific theorist with a wild idea about creating wormholes. An idea that had capture the interest of scientists from across the known universe, but held no greater sway than over his daughter, Aeryn.

She would carry on his work, had n fact already created a means by which to control the wormholes. Had in fact used the technology and discovered the location of his home world. Of Earth. Plans were now underway to make first contact, plans that he had personally helped develop.

A satisfied smile came to his lips. He regretted not being able to see earth one last time, but his health was failing him. He could feel it in every ache and pain in his body, the constant feeling of fatigue that seemed such a disparate contrast to his restless spirit. It would be time soon. Time to see his friends once more. Time to see *her*.

Feeling another wave of fatigue hit, he allowed his eyes to slip close, imagining all his friends and family waiting for him. Imagining her waiting for him, looking exactly as he always saw her: full of fire and determination, yet tinged with compassion so few had known she possessed.

"John."

He looked up and felt a smile blossom across his face in pure joy. Just as he remembered she stood there, her raven tresses hanging loose and free over the simple robe she wore. She extended a hand out towards him. "John, it's time to come home."

Though he knew it was merely ad ream, he allowed himself this fantasy, allowed the weight of his responsibilities to slip away as his hands clasped hers. Felt his sadness and loss evaporate as she swept him into a warm, loving embrace. He closed his eyes once more and let go.