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06 December 2011 @ 01:54 pm
Farscape Story: Prometheus' Wake  
Fandom: Farscape
Title: Prometheus' Wake
Characters: Bobby Coleman
Summary: Uncle John has shown mankind a glimpse of the universe, stolen the fire and torn the lid off the tricky box.
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1241
Author's Note: I'd like to thank my two wonderful beta readers A Damned Scientist and Cathy1967, not only for the great job they did with this story but also for their willingness to help out when help was needed. Additional thanks go to Kernil Crash who came up with a very pragmatic solution for a rather embarrassing problem. Seriously, guys, without you this little piece would have likely ended in cold storage.
Story on AO3: Here

ETA: Story now safely behind a cut. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. Today is one of the days where I could strangle LJ for messing with my posts...



PROMETHEUS' WAKE

(A Series of Family Snapshots Sans Astronaut, circa 2028)

I. Fallout

Twenty-nine years p. JC, Robert Coleman walks the streets of Miami unrecognized. An unobtrusive man in unobtrusive clothes. Even his beard looks perfectly decent, like it belonged there - something that no male on the Crichton side of his family has ever accomplished.

Deny all ties, deny your heritage, that's his credo. Deny the boy you once were and whose documentary recordings, filmed with all the sincerity, fascination and hope of a 13-year old, got twisted into the travesty that was "Alien Visitation".

Nobody, not the TV people, not the U.N., has ever properly apologized to Robert.

Though, in all fairness, Grandpa at least had tried to when he realized there would be a fallout.


II. In Memoriam

After Grandpa's death, IASA put his name on a brand-new heroes' memorial. "John Robert 'Jack' Crichton Sr., 1934 - 2021" the bronze-coloured letters, engraved in black marble, state matter-of-factly.

No achievements are listed, no functions, no titles. Maybe they were just saving space for all the names likely to follow, Robert thinks as he retraces the engraving with his fingertips. Or, even worse, perhaps IASA simply couldn't handle the quintessential truth to which any account of Jack's lifetime achievements would inevitably come down to.

In memoriam Jack Crichton. Astronaut. Father and inspiration to John, and as such responsible for the mess that we live in.

While the afternoon has gotten increasingly cloudy, the marble still feels warm under Robert's touch.


III. White Knight

"They still clean this place twice a week." A voice from behind makes Robert tear his eyes from the memorial.

"Cleaning from what? Graffiti? Hate notes?"

"Please keep your inappropriate jokes to yourself, Mr. Coleman," Carla Suarez calmly replies. His IASA liaison hasn't aged much since Robert last saw her. Grey, short hair frames her observant eyes. Even the lines in Suarez' face are essentially the same. The indestructible Captain Carla, faithful as ever.

"You keep forgetting that this is our home turf. We've got cameras. We search bags. Anyway, most people who come here find it suitable to bring your grandfather flowers," she says.

"Still the white roses?"

"Yes."


IV. Watershed

As Robert follows Captain Suarez towards the space centre's main building complex, Suarez takes a turn to the left. They avoid school classes by going this way, and also the entrance hall with its 1:1 replica of John's Farscape One module.

Twenty-nine years ago, an eggshell-like vessel like this would have hung down from the ceiling on a couple of wire strings, Robert ponders. Suspension of gravity was just one of the gifts his uncle had left at Serenity Base for mankind to unravel.

And thanks to Serenity, thanks to the new 'Age of Progress' which John Crichton had started upon his second return, the space centre's replica module now floats midway between the floor and the skylights. People walk under it and let it rise and turn at the wave of their hands.


V. Between the Lines

"You know, mum always suspected you and Jack had a thing going."

It could be his need to lash out that makes Robert say this, or the photograph on Suarez' desk, showing her circa 2005, still dark-haired and wearing a flight suit. Right beside her stands Jack, smiling, with his right arm placed on her shoulder.

"Tell me, are you really that desperate to end our conversation?" Suarez asks. As she is fixating him with hawkish eyes, Robert can see her cheeks redden slowly.

"Carla, I was a just kid when the backlash from "Alien Visitation" hit home. And let's not forget how hell broke loose after John's second coming. Just leave me alone, please?"


VI. Re-Run

In a way, it's like the twentieth century's first bunch of decades, the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s reloaded. You've got your beautiful-horrible revelations of science, your tech and your mind-blowing insights, leaving a good deal of people unable to cope. Where there is enthusiastic embrace, there is also fear, confusion and hatred.

Uncle John has shown mankind a glimpse of the universe, stolen the fire and torn the lid off the tricky box. He's the unbound Prometheus Crichton, or plain and simple St. John of the impending Scarran Apocalypse, whose doom-laden gospel has been cursed and spit on more often than Robert can count.

And the scariest thing of all, sometimes when he feels lost, cold and tired, Robert fears the haters are right.


VII. Trickster

In her office Suarez offers him coffee to go along with the non-conversation they are having, retracing old battle grounds for about fifteen minutes before Robert decides it's time to grab for his jacket; a cheap tactic, of course, but one that might work. For as long as he's known Suarez, the good captain has always pulled the emergency brake at the last second.

"Alright, Robert." She is biting her lip. Extra points for not 'Bobby-ing' him like other IASA people would do in this situation.

"Am I finally getting the news in plain speak?"

"Yes, plain speak."

"So, what?"

"Back in 2003, when he destroyed the wormhole to Earth, John Crichton may have locked the front door, but he left the side entrance open."


VIII. Backyard

When Robert learns about the second wormhole at Lalande 21185, opening and closing at regular intervals, he can't really appreciate the irony. IASA had discovered the anomaly solely by accident during a test of the new Lo'La-based engine, in the year after Grandpa had died. On the original flight, the pilot had needed five hours to get there. Recent models, Suarez says, manage the distance in three.

"And you guys have been cheerfully playing 'DS9 protecting the Alpha Quadrant' behind humanity's back for six entire years? Screw it, Carla. If Jack had lived to..."

"Be glad that he didn't. Now, would you kindly let me continue, because there is more to it."

"What?"

"Last Friday the station we built at Lalande picked up an automated signal."


IX. Faith, Hope and Popcorn

Robert listens.

Alright, English. In Morse code. Good old-fashioned Morse, something that no person at the other side of the galaxy would have used except John, and Aeryn Sun perhaps, because John being John, he'd surely have taught her at one point. Just as he had taught his nephew some thirty-odd years ago in Jack's living room, laying out each letter with popcorn on the coffee table; one piece for a dot, three for a dash.

The grown man, though, has to resort to the paper and pen Suarez is handing him.

"People of Earth," Robert deciphers, he is trembling. "Do not panic. Things have changed. Not flying through unless you call us. And yes I was sloppy."


X. Follow the Beep

"So, what will the U.N. do about the Lalande wormhole message?" Robert asks. "Contact?"

"Under the current administration? No. And if the Isolationists are having their way come next elections, they'll tell IASA to install a minefield. Precaution is everything, after all." Sighing, Captain Suarez looks down at her hands, almost as if she was re-evaluating the scope of the situation. "I will get court-martialed for this," she finally says, "But how would you feel about a little cruise, Mr. Coleman? Along with the automated broadcast, your uncle has sent some rather useful instructions on how to build a transmitter."

As Suarez raises her head, Robert can see her dark, stern eyes burning with determination.


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