|Sacrifices, Part 1|
by Dustinian, E-mail: email@example.com
About Sacrifices, Part 1
Disclaimer: None of the Farscape characters belong to me. I'm making no money from this story.
Summary: An injured John Crichton may be the only one that can save the ship. High adventure, a few John / Aeryn moments, original villains, and a few laughs add up to a Farscape Fan-Fic I'm pretty proud of.
"Crichton, you bastard! Zhaan, you can fix him?"
Zhaan touched Aeryn on the shoulder, lightly guiding her aside. She leaned down next to Crichton's still form. He was on the deck, he hadn't moved from where D'Argo and Aeryn had laid him. "What happened?"
D'Argo was solemn as he dropped to one knee, surveying John's body with her. "We were recognized. Bounty hunters... we were trapped. Some of them worked their way around us and opened fire. Aeryn would have been killed but..." D'Argo gestured to John.
Zhaan opened Crichton's charred shirt to see the mess underneath. "He sacrificed himself for her?"
D'Argo nodded. "I used the distraction to eliminate the hunters." He brandished his blade, covered in thin green blood. Zhaan repressed a shiver. She could picture D'Argo, blind with rage, hacking away at the bounty hunters, not even showing them the mercy of a gunshot. "We got him on board the pod and... you know the rest."
Zhaan nodded as she probed Crichton's wounds. She indeed knew the rest. Aeryn had been on the pod's comm the entire way back to Moya, frantically screaming for Zhaan to meet them when they landed. Zhaan had arrived in the hangar just in time to see the pod land, and Aeryn and D'Argo emerge carrying the unconscious John Crichton.
"Stop talking and fix him! You're wasting time!"
Zhaan glanced up from John to share a glance with D'Argo. Her meaning was clear.
D'Argo rose, "Come on, Aeryn. We need to go to command. We need to get out of this system."
D'Argo was telling the truth. If any of the bounty hunters had friends with space-capable craft, they needed to leave orbit immediately; but he didn't really need Aeryn's help. The fact was Aeryn looked on the verge of a breakdown and he needed to get her out of there so she wouldn't interfere with Zhaan.
"No!" she pulled away from his hand. "I'm not going anywhere! Zhaan, fix him! Now!"
D'Argo tried to be reasonable. "Aeryn, you're emotional. You need to calm down, and Zhaan can't deal with both you and Crichton."
"I am calm! Fix him!"
D'Argo shook his head. So much for reason. He grabbed her shoulder, intending to carry her to her cell. She reversed his leverage instinctively, nearly spilling him to the floor. He growled and spun, hitting her in the head with the flat of his Qualta Blade. She dropped immediately.
"Was that really necessary?"
D'Argo frowned at the Delvian. "I wish it hadn't been. There's going to be hell to pay when she wakes up." He shook his head and bent to pick up Aeryn, carrying her from the room.
Zhaan allowed herself a momentary smile, noticing again how John's odd Earth sayings had crept into all their speech. All the more reason to redouble her efforts. She reached for some of the herbs and tools she'd brought.
D'Argo lay Aeryn on her bed, arranging her carefully so that she'd be comfortable when she woke up. She would be angry enough at him as it was, he didn't want to imagine her ire if she woke with one or more of her limbs asleep or her neck twisted...
He answered his comm. "Yes, Zhaan?"
"We need to move John into his quarters."
D'Argo frowned. That was quick. "On my way."
He glanced at Aeryn one more time before he set off down the corridor.
He was back in the hangar in moments. He walked quickly to Zhaan. "You've healed him already?"
Zhaan looked helpless. "I've done... all I can, which isn't much. I've cleaned his wounds and put a salve on them that will slow blood loss and disinfect the wound. Healing is up to him now. We need to get him into his cell."
D'Argo nodded and slid his hands under Crichton's arms, lifting him gently. Zhaan picked up his legs. Working together they managed him down the corridor and onto his bed in no time. D'Argo watched his friend's chest rise and fall steadily, hoping that it would keep doing so.
Zhaan lingered a moment. "D'Argo?"
D'Argo's head whipped toward Zhaan. "Yes?"
"I know you were in charge this time... but you do know that none of this is your fault?"
D'Argo looked away.
"I should have noticed them sooner. They wouldn't have cornered us so quickly and we could have escaped... This," he gestured to Crichton, "wouldn't have happened."
Zhaan watched Crichton, too. "I agree that this turn of events is... unfortunate. And all my hopes are with John. But I know you did the best you could, Ka D'Argo."
She rested her hand on D'Argo's arm. "Things like this happen. Let your thoughts be with John, and hope for his recovery. That's what's important now. Do not turn your thoughts inward and doubt yourself, we can both see that nothing good will come of that, agreed?"
D'Argo hesitated, he gave her a weak smile. "Agreed."
"Good. Let's get something to eat, I'm sure you're hungry after all this. We're going to have to stay alert."
D'Argo nodded. "First, let's starburst out of here. I don't want to risk pursuit."
Zhaan bowed her head in agreement.
Aeryn came awake with a start. "Crichton!" She looked about in confusion. "How did I... D'Argo! I'm going to kill him. Pilot!"
The comm came alive. "Aeryn?"
"Where is Crichton?"
"He's in his cell."
"He is alive. Zhaan has done what she can."
She closed her eyes and remembered the shots headed for her, and saw Crichton sweeping across in front of her, absorbing the blasts. "I'll go and see that for myself."
The two looked up from their food cubes. "Yes, Pilot?"
"Aeryn is awake."
D'Argo steeled himself. "Is she on her way here?"
"No, she's going to Crichton."
Zhaan rose. "I'll go. Don't worry, D'Argo. She will be angry but she will understand. I think that John's condition is going to hit her the hardest. You may want to warn Rygel when you see him that it's not a good idea to... provoke her for a while."
D'Argo nodded. "The last thing we need on our hands is a dead Hynerian Emperor," he agreed.
Aeryn had to bite back vomit when she saw him; it hit her like a blow to the stomach. He looked like a corpse, he was so pale. His wounds were now wrapped, but other than that there was no change.
"I've done all I can, but he's still in bad condition."
Aeryn spun to see Zhaan behind her. "You can't do anything more?"
"I'm afraid not... I wish I could."
"Well, is there some place we can take him? Somewhere he can go?"
"I'm sure there is, but we could not take him without exposing us all to danger. The only hospitals with the technology to help him beyond what I have done are well within Peace Keeper jurisdiction."
Aeryn wanted to snap back, "Peace Keeper jurisdiction be damned," but she knew that Zhaan was right. The only way they could save Crichton was to sacrifice all of them, including him. But at the same time she knew that Crichton wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice of himself for anyone. Hadn't he proved that time and time again? Especially today.
"John has lost a lot of blood. He's been weakened severely. The damage done to him was not immediately fatal, but he could still die... if his body gives up. It must repair itself. He has a good chance. I can help once he starts to recover... but I cannot simply cure him."
Aeryn nodded, but didn't say anything. She didn't trust her voice not to break.
Zhaan touched Aeryn's back. "Aeryn, I know how much John means to you, to us all. We're all here for him... and you. Do you want to talk about... what happened?"
Aeryn stood there, regarding Crichton. She had her fist to her mouth and was biting down on one of her fingers to keep from... well, from crying. There was a time when she would have said "no" to Zhaan before even considering the offer. But things had changed hadn't they? Crichton had changed them.
"We were... attacked. They were bounty hunters. Probably after the reward the Peace Keepers are offering for us. They backed us into a small alley. The fight seemed endless. Then suddenly they were coming at us from the side, through a door. I looked over and saw them, and they aimed at me and I knew I was dead--and then..."
Aeryn broke off as her body threatened to betray her, she was shaking with emotion. She fought to regulate her breathing. Zhaan took her hand. "And then what, Aeryn?"
Aeryn tried to keep the tears from her speech but was only partially successful. "And then, then he was there. Crichton I mean. He jumped to me, shielding me with his body. And then D'Argo was standing over us and it was over, he had killed them all. But... before that, when we were lying there, Crichton was bleeding everywhere. But I saw him, his eyes. He was looking at me all over, and when he saw I wasn't hurt, he smiled... and then he closed his eyes--and didn't open them again. He was lying there shot, dying for all I knew, and he didn't care. All he cared about was me."
Zhaan hugged Aeryn to her when the ex-Peace Keeper finally broke down.
"Oh, Zhaan," Aeryn said through her strangled sobs, "What kind of people are these humans? For him to care so much about others without thinking about himself?"
Zhaan closed her eyes. She wished she knew. Gods help the known universe if the humans ever learned to travel the stars. If John was a good example of them, their spirit, then they would change everything. Who could defeat such people?
Zhaan found Rygel and D'Argo in the hangar, working on Moya's pod.
D'Argo noticed her first. "Zhaan! How is John?"
Zhaan lowered her eyes for a moment. "He struggles still. I cannot tell if he's recovering or not."
Rygel had heard the whole story from D'Argo as they worked. Rygel had been so curious about what had happened, that he actually didn't mind handing D'Argo tools every now and then, if it meant he got to hear the tale. "If he survives will he be normal?"
Zhaan nodded. "If he heals, it will be completely, yes."
Rygel shook his head. Even he felt for John. "If we were home, the royal surgeons could have healed him in hours. I would have seen to it... personally."
Zhaan smiled. The show of empathy from Rygel was unusual. "I know you would have, but all we can do now is wait for John to heal himself."
D'Argo hopped down from the pod's hull. "And Aeryn?"
"She is with John. She has... accepted these circumstances. I don't think she's going to leave him. I'm going to take her food in half an arn."
D'Argo was wiping his hands on a cloth. "Let me. I should apologize to her for earlier."
Zhaan bowed slightly. "As you wish, Ka D'Argo. Rygel, I am going to need your help. I'm going to mix something we can give John to drink. His body is going to need fuel if it is going to heal himself. He may choke if we try to feed him so I am going to have to be... creative."
Rygel shrugged. "There's nothing else to do." He feigned indifference, but Zhaan could see he wanted to help John.
Aeryn looked up and saw D'Argo standing in the entranceway. "D'Argo."
"I brought food." He set the plate down and hesitated. "Aeryn, I'm... sorry. About before."
Aeryn waved away his apology. "You weren't wrong. I was being unreasonable."
"Are you... alright?"
She smiled weakly. "Just a bit of a headache."
D'Argo nodded mutely. "And Crichton?"
"I wish I knew, D'Argo. I wish I knew."
D'Argo patted John's shoulder. "He has the will of a warrior. He will prevail."
"I'm sure you're right," Aeryn said; but she wasn't sure. The truth was she was scared to death. "D'Argo, have you ever seen anything like that?"
"Like what John did?"
The Luxan looked thoughtful as he moved to sit next to Aeryn. "I have only been in two battle campaigns... but I have seen Luxan warriors face down incredible odds. I watched a company of three hundred Luxans hold an advance base against three thousand Grinoldian shock troops for six days. But they only did their duty."
He paused, thinking. "Until what John did, I have never seen someone throw their lives away for anyone but their family. Especially not for another capable warrior on the battlefield, responsible for themselves."
Aeryn looked pained for a moment.
"I'm sorry, Aeryn, I only meant..."
"I know, D'Argo. On the battlefield, each warrior's life is his own responsibility. Everyone knows what they are getting into, so why sacrifice yourself for another warrior? I know."
D'Argo nodded. "And you? Have you ever seen anything like that?"
She shook her head. "Never. In the Peace Keepers, it was all numbers. We never risked units to help other units if the danger was that great. Better to lose one unit than two. We were trained to be... efficient."
D'Argo smiled. "...And he did it without even thinking. John. He doesn't follow any of our rules, does he?"
"No, he doesn't. I don't know what he follows."
D'Argo's eyes lost focus for a moment as he appeared to look through Moya's walls. "Neither do I. But whatever it is... sometimes I think it makes him stronger than us all."
Aeryn sat next to John's bed. She'd taken to talking to him. Not so much because she thought he could hear her, but to keep her awake.
She wanted to be there when he woke up. She wasn't sure why. Either to scold him--very harshly--for doing something as stupid as what he did; or to hug him hard enough to knock him out again. Either way, she had to be there.
She'd just finished telling him about the first time she'd soloed in a Prowler, and was now telling him all about her entrance into the Pleisar Commandos. "Crais first noticed me when I led the mission that forced the Hynerian Insurgency Group back underground. He sent the invitation to join the Special Pleisar Commandos. At the time, I thought there was no higher honor for me. I wasn't bred for command, so an elite commando group was the best I could do..."
She paused, remembering again what Crichton had said to her soon after they met. She'd been thinking about it a lot lately. "You were right, by the way. When you said I could be more. I'm more now than I ever could have been as a Peace Keeper. Back there, no matter what I did, I'd never have been more than just another Peace Keeper. Thank you, Crichton."
Aeryn jerked around to the sound of someone clearing their throat. "Zhaan!"
Zhaan smiled. "Aeryn. Any improvement?" She crossed over to John.
Aeryn shook her head.
"Maybe this will help." She brandished a small thermos. "Rygel and I worked this up. It's tea. It's full of nutrients and minerals. It'll give his body something to use. But... it's going to take a long time to administer. Just a little at a time. We don't' want to risk any of it going into his lungs. We can't afford to weaken him in any way."
Aeryn nodded. "I'll give it to him."
Zhaan held out the thermos for her. "You'll let me know if there's any change?"
"Good night, Aeryn Sun."
Aeryn hefted the thermos. "Time for lunch, Crichton."
Aeryn's eyelids weighed a ton. She'd just finished feeding the last of the tea to Crichton. His cheeks were starting to turn pink again. Aeryn considered calling Zhaan, but no use calling the Delvian just because John's cheeks looked better.
She told herself that it didn't mean much, but inside she was hoping it was a sign he'd open his eyes soon. She couldn't fall asleep or she'd miss it.
But despite her best efforts... moments later she'd drifted off. The shootout on the planet and keeping the vigil over Crichton left her drained. Her body would only let her get away with so much.
John Crichton's head was swimming, he couldn't keep his mind focused on any one thing. He saw blurry visions of bounty hunters, his father, D.K., his first girlfriend. Nothing swam into focus, though. Until... Aeryn. "Is she alright?" he asked himself.
He remembered looking her over, just before he'd passed out. She was fine... at least she was then. He'd blanked after that, who knows what happened by now?
He wondered briefly if he was dead. No, he thought. Heaven wouldn't hurt this much, and Hell would hurt a lot more...
He tried to open his eyes, only to have them seared by the dim light in the room. I must've been out a long time if my eyes are this adjusted to dark... he tried again, slowly. Through his eyelashes he could make out the ceiling of Moya. I'm in my room, he realized.
He heard faint snoring to his right, and tried to make out the shape. The light, dim as it was, was still too much for him. He tried to move his arm over to pat the person awake, but found it too weak to budge. Damn, I'm out of it.
As his eyes adjusted a bit, he saw that it was Aeryn, and much to his relief, she was all right. Thank God.
"Aeryn?" God, his voice sounded weak. Even to him. He wondered how he looked. "Aeryn?"
No dice. She was fast asleep. He smiled slightly, "Officer Sun!"
Aeryn's eyes snapped open immediately. "Wha...?" She looked around her, suddenly awake and very confused. She'd half expected to see the barracks of her last ship. Her gaze fell onto the bed... and the eyes looking at her... the very open eyes... "Crichton! You're awake!"
He smiled a little, enjoying her reaction. "Dad always did say I was lazy... but I can't sleep all the time."
Aeryn fought back tears when she heard the weakness of his voice, but that feeling was swallowed up by the joy at his being awake. "You're awake! You're awake! How are you? Do you feel okay? You think you'll be alright?"
His smile widened, he'd never seen Aeryn so excited. He was... flattered. "I feel fine, Aeryn. Just really tired. Shouldn't I hurt a lot more? I was filled full of little yellow bolts of light."
She had to strain to hear him. "Zhaan put some pain killers in your wrappings. Zhaan! She said to get her if anything changed. I should get her, it might help!"
"Aeryn, calm down, I feel okay." He chuckled a bit. "What happened after the lights went out?"
Aeryn's excitement faded a bit, reminded of the light fight they'd had. "D'Argo took care of the bounty hunters, and we rushed you to Moya as quickly as we could."
"How'd D'Argo make out?"
"He's fine. Just been worried about you, same as all of us."
John nodded. "And you?"
"No injuries... thanks to you."
He shrugged as best he could, and suddenly looked uncomfortable. "Yeah well, I figured I'm bigger than you and would have a better chance at surviving the damage."
Anger flashed through Aeryn's eyes. "The frell you did, Crichton! You didn't have time to think, and I saw your eyes before you passed out. You thought you were going to die!"
He looked even more uncomfortable, and Aeryn knew she'd hit upon the truth. "I just... couldn't let anything happen to you." He looked away for a moment, and looked back, composed. "I hate to ask this, but are there any food cubes around? I'm starving."
Aeryn was on her feet in a flash. "I'll be right back with some. I'll bring Zhaan back, too. Maybe she can do more with you now."
John nodded weakly and closed his eyes again, resting.