John admires Staleek's excellent bright red outfit and intuits that he's the Emperor; Staleek growls just a bit. John steps toward the table and explains that there are "multiple dead-man sensors" attached to him, "from every culture on my ship and a few cultures I haven't heard of." Commandant Grayza folds her hands on the table like a good girl. "My heart stops, we all go boom. My heart speeds up, it's boom again. Too hot, too cold, too happy, too sad, thirsty, hungry, bored...it's John Lee Hooker time. Boom, boom, boom." And also, Ahkna, none of that psychic shit. "Kaboom, and we're all pushin' up day-glo daisies." War Minister Ahkna, because it's what she says whenever she opens her mouth: "Why do I doubt that?" As in, "You say it's a bomb? You say you have wormhole weapons? I doubt that you do, and now I'm going to kidnap you and make a bioloid duplicate." Why does she doubt that: "Because you lack imagination?" I love John Crichton.
Staleek asks what he wants. "What do I want? What do I want? I have not been chasing my ass all over the galaxy trying to pull out chunks of my brain. I have not been sneaking fembots ["Bringing Home The Beacon"], and Skreeths, into the places where I live. You want something! You. You want what's inside my head. You want what I know about wormholes. Because I," he says crazily, madly, brightly, bravely, climbing up onto the table and going on a little walk around it, "I can leap tall galaxies in a single bound. I can scorch planets with a wave of my hand." He points to the Scarrans, the Charrids, the Kalish. To Grayza: "And you, and you, and you: you can't do jack." Grayza narrows her eyes, but there's pleading in them too, and it's kind of a sad little moment for her. This is a sad little episode for my girl Grayza. "That's. Not. True," she says. Because if it were, the Cold War would be over, and her people would be overcome forever, and the peace would not only have failed, it would be wiped out. So it's not true, because it can't be true. And that's her whole life, right there. She's more admirable than not, I think; she's in parallel with Sikozu more than anything. Sikozu and Ahkna, of course. She's not Crais or Scorpius 3.0, though she is an insane military commander and she is both powerful and dangerous, but really she's just somebody in a position to get things done. Somebody who put herself into that position. Not out of hate of the Scarrans, like Scorpius, but out of love for Sebaceans. What's worse than a bad bad guy? A good one. Which means, to my mind, that her failures, though they generally do benefit the cast, are not to be celebrated.