Posted: Friday, September 05, 2003 12:35 AM
The creature on the chair writhes in pleasing rhythms, sweat and spittle flying in time with the chair's cycling.
"No one, I swear! It's just you!"
Scorpius nods at his assistant. She slows the chair down a level.
"Tell us again where you obtained it. I'm unfamiliar with the craft depicted in your files."
"Just a -- just a guy, a fekface Sebacean! He owed me for some repairs and this was all he had!"
The woman's eyes roll in her head, the sweat streaking down her broad face and darkening her prison-issue smock. Betak nods in confirmation. This Furlow is telling the truth, despite the unlikeliness of her story.
Seventeen cycles of study wasted. Shown up by this -- creature. She sold wormholes to the Emperor, and Scorpius is disgraced. Minister Akhna will crush the Peacekeepers and Scorpius will have nothing. He was on the wrong path all along.
Scorpius passes a shaking hand over the console and the image comes back into focus: a dark-haired Sebacean male, frustrated and angry, passing over a tiny black cassette.
If only he had found this Crichton first.
Crichton was in his possession again, this time for good. The human squirmed, twisting against his hold, but weak as he was, Crichton couldn't escape from Scorpius. No more than the Peacekeepers could defeat the Scarrans without the weapon Scorpius would build for them.
Then the look on the human's face changed. Scorpius turned his head to see a young Sebacean in tech coveralls, her shaking hands barely large enough to keep steady the rifle she held at waist level.
"Shoot him, Gilina!" Crichton gasped, his eyes alight, barely sane.
It happened very quickly. Before Scorpius had a moment to raise his weapon, the girl had fired twice, the pulses pounding through the smoky air.
"Shoot --!" And then Crichton's voice stopped, the echoes lingering strangely.
"John!" The girl's rifle dropped with a clatter as Crichton slumped in Scorpius' hold.
Scorpius fired once, perfunctorily, and turned his attention to the human. He lowered Crichton to the ground, avoiding the scorched hole in his chest. Air bubbled in the blood streaming over the stolen captain's jacket. Crichton gasped, coughed blood, and raised a hand to grasp Scorpius' shoulder flange.
There was no one around; even the other fugitives were out of sight. The girl's body lay a short distance away. Scorpius wondered briefly who she was, and why she would die for Crichton. He did not wonder about her aim: techs were not trained to handle weapons. She was fortunate she hadn't blown up the pulse rifle.
"I will arrange for medical attention, Crichton. Your comrades have abandoned you. There will be no further escapes."
With a visible effort, Crichton pulled Scorpius down closer to him. At close range, his color was inappropriate for a Sebacean: a pasty grey-white, sweat beading all over his face. It began to seem unlikely he could survive this injury, and too many microts would pass before any medical team could arrive from the base below. This would be unacceptable.
Scorpius snarled. "You will not die."
Crichton grinned, his lips drawn back from his bloodstained teeth, and shook his head. "Sorry, Scorpy ... No -- wormholes -- for you --"
He said nothing more. He was dead.
Scorpius removed himself from the corpse's grasp, and stood up. He could still hear gunfire in the distance, but it was meaningless.
So close. He closed his fists until his knuckles ached, and then relaxed them. He still had the records of Crichton's time in the Chair, and there might be enough to show him the path he needed to follow.
He would have his weapon yet.
The waiting room outside the High Council chamber was, or should have been, silent with anticipation. The glossy walls and overweening decor had long since ceased to impress Scorpius -- if they ever had -- but he pretended that he took seriously the small-minded politicians' attempts at grandeur. It made things easier for him when the Councilors began the cyclical budget review process, if they thought he was sufficiently deferential.
Generally the Council didn't keep him waiting this long, however, and Scorpius' patience was beginning to wane. He had been standing here in the anteroom for two arns and his feet hurt. He still had another three arns before Neim would need to replace his cooling rod, but the delay made him uncomfortable.
Adding to his discomfort was the presence of three young officers in the battered black of special commandos. They had been at the other end of the room when he arrived, and during the course of the afternoon they had gone from quiet whispers and sneers to just-audible comments about "that half-breed freak," accompanied by the occasional outright laugh. He had ground his teeth and ignored them.
There was a snick and the door in the center of the long room opened. Scorpius turned, petty resentments forgotten, but instead of calling him in, the doorguard ushered out a tall Peacekeeper captain.
The three officers, two men and a dark-haired woman, had clearly been waiting for their captain, and swept forward to meet him. Scorpius was forced to step around them to make his way to the doorway. But the guard shook his head and closed the door.
They couldn't close it. This was his scheduled budget hearing, the one day every cycle he received his funding for his research projects.
"But --" The word slipped out before he caught himself. He would not plead. It must be a mistake. He would find Councilor Mindana, explain the necessity for another round of funding --
"Okay, so that wasn't fun. But we got it. We shmoozed enough bean-counters to get the cash for Phase 2." The captain's strangely accented words ricocheted off the anteroom walls and shattered Scorpius' concentration. He swung his head towards them, but the three subordinate officers were focused on the captain, who had slung one arm around the woman's shoulders. They didn't seem to notice Scorpius was even in the room; or didn't care.
The captain was still talking, although it was gibberish to Scorpius. "Mix one part Peacekeeper tech with one part human creativity, and blend with Crais' psycho Leviathan project. We're gonna make the Nebari go boom."
The woman said something in a wry voice and the other three snorted with laughter. They left in a group without a glance at Scorpius and the door panel shut soundlessly, cutting off a discussion about troop movements and Leviathans.
Four cycles of research and they had taken it away, given it to a mindless Peacekeeper captain with no understanding of politics, who had convinced them the Nebari -- the Nebari! -- were the greater threat.
Scorpius straightened, looked around the anteroom with contempt, and strode to the exit. The Nebari were nothing, the Peacekeeper captain -- whoever he was -- was nothing.
The Scarrans were coming.
They all came when the word spread that the scholar was dying.
They gathered from all the surrounding villages, and some of the ferals even emerged from their canyons to stand blinking at the edge of the square.
For the youngest, the scholar had always been there, teaching, guiding, leading them with laughter and wit down the road to wisdom. They whispered amongst themselves, worried about unfinished projects, half-completed training sessions.
The oldest sat in their reed chairs in the shaded colonnades and spoke of the scholar's arrival in the arms of a helmeted soldier. Of his painful and difficult childhood leavened by the intelligence and enthusiasm he brought to everything he did. Of the light he brought into the lives of his foster parents, once considered mad for taking on the challenge of raising a deformed and ugly child with so many problems.
The scholar never spoke of his real parents, of the circumstances of his birth. The oldest knew that was because he knew no more than anyone else did. His fragility became legendary in the village, but somehow he survived to young adulthood, when he put his significant intellect to work and developed mechanisms to protect himself from himself.
His students attended him in his house, kept cold and dark by an ingenious system of cooling tanks and dense polyfiber shades. He stored ice from the winter months and rarely went outdoors, but his skill working with natural materials quickly spread to other villages, other valleys.
During his relatively short life the scholar divined new types of grain crops, hybrids that resisted heat and drought while self-seeding in abundance. He invented three new musical instruments as well as a means by which the music could be recorded for later enjoyment. His poetry brought even the bitter old women from the upper glens to tears.
He never married, nor ever expressed any interest in doing so, and it was understood that he was sadly malformed; even as a youth he had possessed no beauty. But he was loved regardless, by his neighbors for his peaceful disposition, by his students for his creativity, by the village elders for his thoughtful nature.
When the word came at last, and Resalka let down the shades in front of the house, a sigh rippled through the crowd. Many bowed low before they left the square, and some of the mourners stopped in front of the scholar's house to leave flowers.
In later seasons and later years the flowers and small gifts continued, until the custom became tradition and the scholar became even more than he had been in life. The children of his students spoke of his towering intellect and his legendary wisdom, and the word traveled through the fragmented villages, across mountainsides. The cult of his worship never spread very far, however; he was a very small deity known only to a small region of a big planet, in an even bigger galaxy.
And even the scholar, with all his wisdom and his innovation, could not save them when the Scarrans arrived.
The chime sounded just as Kethna finished pouring the kevvit into her cup. She turned carefully, keeping it from spilling, to see the door open and her officer of the day escort in a bizarre figure in glossy black.
She put the cup down and sat behind the desk, while the prisoner and his escort arrayed themselves before her. Taking a sip of the hot liquid, she pondered them for a few moments before speaking.
The prisoner was clad head-to-foot in black; even his hands were covered, and the hood was affixed to his head by bands crossing his face. The material, whatever it was, threw his pale skin and emaciated features into stark relief.
Kethna put the cup down and tapped one finger on the board in front of her, bringing up the file, although she'd already been fully briefed. A hybrid. A half-breed. Disgusting, and there were more every cycle.
"Scorpius, is it?" She asked after several minutes.
"That is the name I have chosen." The voice, at least, wasn't the harsh and uncivilized growl of a Scarran, and indeed the prisoner spoke in clear Sebacean. Mildly promising.
"And what is it you want from us, Scorpius?" She let her voice curl around the name, enjoying the mockery. The prisoner didn't react, but she saw her lieutenant bite back a smile.
"I propose... an exchange of information."
Of course he wanted something. They always did. Dirty creatures, hybrids. He took a breath and began to continue, but she raised a hand to cut him off.
"Unnecessary, I believe. Nothing you could tell us would be worth the trouble of obtaining it."
"But I can provide you information about Scarran technology, stra--"
Kethna shook her head and ignored him. "Lieutenant. Kill him and purge the records." Really, the problems such a creature could cause if granted any leeway. She would lose all credibility if she brought him in.
"Sir!" Penday saluted briskly and manhandled the still-talking half-breed out of the room.
The door slid shut. Captain Kethna Supay was left again in peace. She shook her head and took another sip of her kevvit. Really: what kind of mind thinks the Peacekeepers would accept a half-breed, even as a spy?
Notes: There's a multi-fandom challenge going around, to tell a series of linked stories about things which never happened to a given character. Inspiration for this story comes somewhat indirectly from Kyra Cullinan and Shrift, who wrote brilliant and painful stories set in the Buffy and Sports Night fandoms, respectively. This story was first posted on FarscapeWorld in August of 2003; this version is slightly different.
Please post a comment on this story.
Title: To Be the Hero: 5 Things that Never Happened to Scorpius
Author: cofax [email]
Details: Standalone | PG | 12k | 02/14/04
Summary: There's a million twists Scorpius' life could have taken: here are five.
Notes: Beta by Jintian and Sorlk Lewis; many thanks to you both. Other notes at end.
Spoilers: through to Incubator
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