Chapter 8 - Inside Crichton's Head
The Doctor worked through the night on the plans for the generator stabilizer. He had no need to study the data the Pathfinders had collected. What little information they had, he'd learned as a child. His brilliance was apparent to Vanitem, Rivortus and Lastren who watched with constant amazement as he easily solved problems they had been struggling with since the inception of their wormhole program. The three researchers had actually felt quite useless until the Doctor gave them each a special project to do. He didn't bother to explain the end results to them and they didn't seem to want to know. They simply worked diligently and silently for several hours way past their sleep cycle. When the Doctor noticed them each trying to stay alert and keep their eyes open, he suggested they go get some sleep. Niwek had turned in some time ago, after stationing two of his guards to watch over the scientists. The Doctor continued working for another hour or so. He could have kept going without rest but thought it best not to let the Scarrans know that he was a virtual EverReady Bunny, able to keep going and going and going. Besides, he wanted to check on Crichton and the others to make sure they were still alive and not being mistreated. After reaching a good stopping point, he stood and walked over to the guards who looked to be halfway falling asleep themselves.
"Think I'd like to get a little rest now. I take it, accommodations have been provided?"
Shegwon and his shorter companion, Fooglea escorted the Doctor down to the basement and into a wide corridor with several large-windowed rooms on either side. The rooms were similar to zoo enclosures and each contained the family members of the exploration crew. The lights had been dimmed but the Doctor was still able to make out the sleeping forms of the siblings and spouses huddled together on the bare floor. The last unit contained Crichton who could be seen through the window sitting in a corner on the floor with his knees to his chest, back against the wall and his head resting atop folded arms. After the Doctor entered the room, the door was locked securely behind him and his escorts walked away.
The Time Lord walked slowly about the small room noting that there was nothing very useful in the way of escape. There was no inside door lock to try to pick open and the air vent was only big enough for air to get through. There was a closed panel in the door for the introduction of food and water, and a small shower drain in one corner. The place had been intended to house animals, not people, and the people were never meant to be alive for very long. The only good thing about that was there were no extra security measures in place. There was no video or sound monitoring, and only simple, sliding latches on the outside of the door. The Doctor stopped in front of the wide, picture window and looked across to the one directly opposite him. In the darkness, he was surprised to see a glowing pair of bright blue eyes peering back at him. A small face moved closer to the window, pressing against it as a hand rose up and waved at him. It was Veyadad. The Doctor gave a nod of recognition and returned the wave. An adult moved up behind the younglin as she apparently explained who the strange alien was across from them. The Doctor assumed it was her father, judging by the protective way he pulled her back from the window and into the far shadows of the enclosure.
"So, what's the plan?" a soft voice spoke just above a whisper.
The Doctor turned around, leaned his back against the smooth glass and folded his arms across his chest. Instead of answering the question, he asked one of his own. "How are you feeling?"
Crichton grunted softly as he sat up a little straighter and tilted his head backwards against the wall. "Headache's gone. Ears stopped ringing. Not seeing multiples of you...."
"I'm sorry I couldn't prevent him hurting you."
"Not your fault. You never wanted me to come along in the first place. All I did was give the Scarrans something to use against you. Man, you were doing okay up until Niwek started in with the mind torture. You had him going. I saw it in his eyes, he was ready to cave. If I hadn't been there.... Guess I should have just stayed on board Moya."
"Why didn't you?"
"Thought I could help in some way."
"Is that the only reason?"
Crichton was slow in answering, but knew the Doctor had already figured it out. "Not the only reason, no. It's just... you know how to get back to Earth. I didn't trust you before, but after you proved yourself...."
"So you want me to take you back home. You'd leave your friends behind that easily?"
Crichton sighed despondently. "They're better off without me. Trouble's been hounding me since day one out here. Everywhere I go, people I care about get hurt or worse."
"Yeah," the Doctor said as he rubbed a weary hand over his face, "I know the feeling. He was silent for a moment, weighing his thoughts carefully before speaking. Finally, he asked, "Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?"
"Not really. That's what everyone said when my mom died. There was no reason for it. Just...." Crichton shook his head, not knowing what to add to that.
"Sometimes there really are reasons for things happening the way they do. There was a reason why you fell down a wormhole and ended up half a billion light-years away from home. There's a reason why you became a passenger on a Leviathan with an odd assortment of aliens that became your family. There's a reason why the ancients stuffed your brain full of wormhole technology; why Moya and the Pathfinder ship collided; why Zhaan died; and why you're sitting here chatting with me right now. Think about it... the only Human in this entire galaxy just happens to meet up with the last surviving Time Lord. I mean, what are the odds?"
"So you're talking fate. You and I being brought together is because we were just meant to be? Why? To make sure that this planet is saved?"
"Perhaps. It's like a game of three-dimensional chess being played by some omnipotent cosmic force. We're nothing more than chess pieces being strategically moved about, setting the stage for either a spectacular win... or a dismal defeat."
"I hate being played," said Crichton, "and I hate losing. So, what do we do now? How do we get out of here, free the Pathfinders and get rid of the Scarrans? I know you don't do plans but we could use a good one right about now."
"Well, actually, I do have a bit of a plan in the works."
"Yeah? What is it?"
"Oh, I can't tell you any of it. One good zap of the Scarran's mind probe and you'll blab everything."
"Oh, yeah, right." Crichton sighed heavily. "Man, hate to say it, but kind of wish the old Harvey was around."
"The old Harvey?"
"The original Harvey. He helped to protect me. That was one of his functions. When Scorpius implanted the chip, he had it programmed to collect data but also to keep me alive. I first met Harvey when I had been captured by a Scarran scientist who used some kind of mind altering machine on me; had me hallucinating big time, on the verge of a complete mental breakdown. Harvey materialized and warned me about what was going on. In order to protect me, he temporarily stopped my heart so that I would appear to be dead. Once the Scarran was thrown off guard by my death, Harvey started me up again and I was able to shove an overloading pulse pistol into the Scarran's mouth. Blew his head clear off. Wait... that's it! If we can get our hands on a pulse pistol and set it to overload... we can take out the big guy. Once their leader is gone, the others will probably hop in their spaceship and head home. What do you think?"
"I think I'd like to meet Harvey."
"The fellow that lives inside your head. I'd like to meet him."
Crichton chuckled lightly. "Well, Slim, there's one problem with that. You'd have to get inside my head to meet him."
"I know. That's actually what I was asking."
"You... you want to get inside my head to meet the imaginary guy that lives there?"
"How? And more importantly, why?"
"I happen to possess certain psychic abilities which allow me to read people's thoughts, which I only do if I have permission, of course. I'm thinking that I may be able to help Harvey protect you from the Scarran's mind probe should they use it on you again. Course, if you'd rather not let me in, I completely understand. I know you've been mentally violated by aliens already, and you've no real reason to trust me inside your mind. But, I promise not to invade your privacy and any alterations I make will be minor and temporary."
Crichton thought about it for a moment. He was very leery of letting yet another alien have access to his brain, not that he'd ever had any say-so in the matter before. At least this time he was being asked for permission to have his head screwed with. However, politeness aside, he figured that it probably wasn't a very good idea.
"I still don't get why you would need to talk to Harvey."
"He's buried deep inside your subconscious. He's aware of things that you're not. The original Harvey had enough control over your brain to make your heart stop and start. I want to give the current Harvey back some of that control so that he can protect you against the Scarran's mind probe."
"Oh, frell no!" said Crichton, getting to his feet. "No way am I turning control over to Harvey!"
"Not full control. Just enough to thwart the Scarran's heat ray effect on you."
"What makes you think they'll even bother to use that on me again anyway?"
"Because Commander Niwek will want to know what we've been discussing. There are no monitoring devices in here, so that just leaves you, Arthur Dent."
Crichton cocked his head to one side as he peered at the Doctor through the semi-darkness. "You told him that was my name because... you figured my real identity might cause problems.... Why did you think that?"
"Your name... is legendary. Or, at least it will be soon enough."
"You were protecting me?"
"You, and your future."
"My future's that great, huh?"
"Let's just say that it's worth protecting."
Crichton had trusted seemingly nice aliens before and had been betrayed or used by them, either for fun or profit or simply to save their own hides. There was no real reason why he should put any faith into this particular alien. Okay, there was the time travel thing which was pretty cool and the fact that he'd met him as a little boy. Perhaps the guy had gotten inside his head already in some inconspicuous way to make himself appear harmless and completely trustworthy, even if he wasn't. Crichton assumed that having the Doctor inside his head would not be nearly as painful as having the Scarran's mind probe tearing through his skull again. Feeling as though he didn't have much of a choice, he sighed deeply and consented with a slight nod.
"What do I have to do?"
The Doctor moved to stand directly in front of the Human and placed his hands on either side of his head. "Just relax. Anything you don't want me to see, just imagine it behind a locked door. I promise I won't go in."
Inside Crichton's head there was a dimly lit hallway lined with several doors on each side. Some were partially opened and a few were closed. As the Doctor walked down the hall, he noted the signs on the doors. Opened ones were labeled with Earth, Moya and Space, the Final Frontier. Crichton, dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans, came out of a door marked Private. He closed the door behind him and locked it with a key. After pocketing the key, he signaled the Doctor to follow him down the corridor towards the closed door at the end of the hallway. The door was well lit with the name Harvey printed in an arch over a gold star. He tapped lightly on the door, and without waiting for an answer, pushed it open.
Beyond the door was a short dock surrounded by a peaceful looking lake. The sun was shining and there was a gentle, warm breeze blowing. Near the end of the dock, a figure sat in a deck chair, wearing a straw hat, Bermuda shorts and a flowery shirt over what looked like a black scuba diving suit with knee-length boots. He was sipping from a frosty glass containing a red, fruity drink with a tiny umbrella in it. He turned his head at the sound of approaching footsteps on the dock. Harvey's white face was similar to that of Commander Niwek, but was more Human in appearance and much less intimidating.
"Ahhh, visitors!" he beamed happily. "How nice." Harvey didn't bother to stand. He merely gestured towards two chairs that suddenly appeared across from him. "Please, sit." The Doctor and Crichton made themselves comfortable as Harvey continued. "This is such a pleasant surprise having company like this. John, aren't you going to introduce us?"
"Harvey, Doctor." Crichton flipped his hand from one to the other. "Doctor, Harvey."
"A pleasure to meet you, Doctor," said Harvey with a wide grin, displaying a row of sharp, canine-like brownish teeth surrounded by thin, black lips.
"A pleasure to meet you as well, Harvey. I suppose you already know why I'm here."
"You want me to help Crichton overcome the Scarran's mind probe."
"And as I understand it, you have the ability to empower me."
"Yes, if you're willing to cooperate."
"But of course. I would gladly do anything to help out my good friend John."
"However..." Harvey took a moment to take a sip from his drink before continuing. "I can't help but wonder... what's in it for me?"
"Well, mainly, your survival. After all, if Crichton dies, you die, right?"
"Of course, there's that. But, it's not exactly a party living inside Crichton's head. It's awfully boring at times and truly depressing dealing with his homesickness, guilt and unrequited love.... Perhaps death would not be such a bad thing."
The Doctor glanced at Crichton, wondering just how much of Harvey's thoughts reflected what the Human was thinking. "Well, umm, what would you like for your full cooperation then, Harvey?"
"I want out. I want to leave this desolate wasteland and never return."
The Doctor leaned forward in his seat and asked, "Exactly, what's keeping you here?"
"Ah, there's the rub. If only I knew for sure. But an educated guess would be..." He surreptitiously pointed a finger in Crichton's direction.
"And why would he want to keep you around?"
"Why, indeed? Perhaps Johnny Boy and I have more in common than he cares to admit."
"You're referring to the quest for wormhole technology?"
"When I first arrived on the scene, it was all I thought about. It was my mission to dig through his brain and find every little scrap of scientific data I could. When the chip was removed, I should have gone with it, but apparently Crichton's subconscious decided it needed me. You see, there's quite a bit of wormhole information still missing. I suppose I've become that part of John's brain that's fully dedicated to continuing the search for the missing parts of the puzzle. Unfortunately, I have some relentless competition for his full attention." Harvey gave a nod towards the very end of the dock where Aeryn, wearing a white bikini and sunglasses, lay stretched out on a towel, sunning herself.
"Hey, leave her out of this!" Crichton snapped, and the image of Aeryn vanished immediately.
"Spoilsport," Harvey grumbled. "Anyway, perhaps that's it. If Crichton gets his hands on wormhole technology, then he won't need or want me around anymore. He can expel me, release me from this dreary existence. You're giving all that wonderful technology to the Scarrans; why can't you do the same for John? He wants it. Wants it bad. Just too shy to ask."
"Crichton, is that true?"
"No... I mean... I just wanna be able to get back home."
"Is that all? You just want to go home to Earth?"
"Yeah. I mean... you know, it would be really cool to understand how it all works and to be able to use it to jet around the universe, see the sights. Go where no man has gone before. But..." Crichton sighed and shook his head with regret, "there are just too many power hungry crazies out there. Like most scientific discoveries, somebody's always gonna want to use it for bad things... war or whatever. And it really scares me, because even the little bit I know, people are willing to kill or die over it. So, on one hand yeah, I wish I could master wormhole travel, but on the other hand... I wish I never even knew they existed."
It was a good answer which the Doctor easily accepted. He looked to Harvey and asked, "Do you want Crichton to continue to pursue wormhole knowledge?"
"I only want what's best for dear John," Harvey spoke with a gentle voice that somehow lacked sincerity.
"That's not what I asked."
"No, I suppose it wasn't, was it? It's just that... John doesn't quite know what he wants. I have to be his voice of reason, his guidance counselor. The Ancients apparently saw something very special in him or they would not have given him the wormhole knowledge to begin with. He sees it only as a curse, but that's because his gift has not been fully developed. Much of the information is still locked deep inside his subconscious waiting to be realized. You, my good Doctor, I imagine can help him to unlock that particular door."
"Technically, I could. But I have a feeling that Crichton's clever enough to unlock that door himself when the time is right. Preferably, when you're no longer lurking about. No offense."
"But I do take offense. You won't trust Crichton with wormhole tech, but you're willing to hand it over to the Scarrans because of a simple threat of carnage.
"Well, to be perfectly honest, I'm not giving the Scarrans wormhole technology."
"You're not?" asked Crichton in surprise.
"Of course not. What do you take me for? Giving Commander Niwek a wormhole machine would be like giving a BB gun to an eight-year-old boy. He's liable to shoot someone's eye out with it. Metaphorically speaking, of course, and on a more cosmic level."
"So you lied to the big guy."
"Not so much lied as fudged the truth a bit." The Doctor looked about as if making sure they were alone. "I suppose it's okay to talk in here. I told Commander Niwek what he wanted to hear. I did it to buy us some time. He's given me access to the computers and I've managed to implement a little bit of a plan."
"What's the plan?" asked Harvey, rubbing his hands together excitedly. "I love a good plan. Crichton hardly ever has any."
"The plan is quite simple, actually. We need to destroy this building. I was talking with Lastren and a couple of the other scientists. This facility is the only one of its kind on the planet. It's not like on Earth where multiple countries have invested in the same technological advances. You shut down one site, others are there to take up the slack. Here, because the complexities and expense for this type of research is so great, and all the nations get along pretty well, they tended to put all their eggs into one basket, as it were. So, once this place is destroyed, no more wormhole research and no reason for the Scarrans to stick around."
"Oooh, excellent idea!" Harvey applauded. "Oh, John, I like him. He's very clever."
"Thank you. Except, there is one slight problem, however."
"Getting the Pathfinders out of here safely before you destroy the place," Crichton guessed correctly.
"And the Scarrans as well."
Crichton was taken aback by that. "What, you want to save the bad guys?"
"If possible. Everyone deserves a chance to live."
Harvey sneered. "On second thought, I'm not so sure you are all that bright."
"I don't know, Doc," said Crichton, "Letting the Scarrans go, especially the commander, might not be such a good idea. You heard what he said. These people mean nothing to him. You destroy his little pipe dream here, he may just take it out on the whole planet. Might come back with a shipload of that toxic gas."
"Yeah. Maybe." The Doctor thought about his run-in with the Sycorax. He had allowed them to go, but only after dispatching their captain. The leaders of Earth were not satisfied with allowing the aliens to get off scot-free. They were afraid that they might return with larger forces to annihilate the planet, and the Doctor -- their protector -- might not be around when he was needed. Quite often, he wasn't. Earth had UNIT, Torchwood, and Sarah Jane Smith to fill in the gaps when he wasn't around. From his quick search on the computer, the Pathfinders had no such protective force in place.
"Yes, right, umm... Commander Niwek may be a problem, but I'll deal with him. I'm hoping I can convince him to allow the families to return to their homes."
"What good would that do? An explosion big enough to destroy this building will probably wipe out everything within a couple miles radius."
"I was thinking more of an implosion. I'll be able to contain any disturbance within a hundred yards or so."
"Implosion? Oh, you mean like those demolition experts that can take down an old skyscraper by placing explosives on different floors in key locations. But how do you plan on getting around this place to set charges unnoticed."
"Oh, there's more than one way to make a building implode. I've got something a bit more hi-tech in mind."
"Okay. Sounds good. What can I do to help?"
"Well, before we go any further into the planning stage, I need to make sure you're able to keep secrets should the Scarrans decide to chat you up again." The Doctor looked to Harvey. "So, what do you say, Harvey? Mind if I get inside your head?"