|Sacrifices, Part 2: Attack|
by Dustinian, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Sacrifices, Part 2: Attack
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.
Click here to read Part 1.
The large Elvkish turned to see his nephew, Runt, sprinting frantically through the marketplace, calling his name. His anger rose immediately, but only showed through a slight darkening of his eyes. Runt--the fool--was calling more attention to himself than an Elvkisha girl in her first heat.
Runt slowed and panted when he reached his uncle. "Uncle Raine, thank the stars I found you... Durgan and Necron are both dead, so are all of their hunters."
Raine cuffed his nephew violently between the ears. "Not here, you fool," he breathed. He dropped his furry paw heavily on Runt's shoulder and drew him into a side-street. "This better be good, Runt." Raine unsheathed his talons, "or you'll be joining the dead in the stars tonight."
Runt was visibly shaken. He knew well that his uncle was not an Elvkish to be toyed with. He calmed himself with some effort and arranged his thoughts before he spoke again. "Uncle," he reminded Raine that they were related, hoping to ease his wrath, "Durgan and Necron recognized bounties in the western market. They combined their forces to take the three off-worlders, two Sebaceans and a Luxan. They got one of the Sebaceans, killed him, but the Luxan slaughtered all the hunters in the moments following."
Raine narrowed his eyes. So, Durgan and Necron were dead... They were fools anyway. Raine never did trust Grendrels. They were too cold-blooded even for him. Their lizard eyes always seemed to stare out of shadows and corners, always sneaking about. They weren't full of vigor and fire like the Elvkish. Still, they had been good hunters; Raine had respected them. "What bounties killed them?"
Runt's eyes slid back over to the street and he lowered his voice. "I believe it was the crew of the Moya..."
Raine leaned back. The Moya crew! They were worth more than three times as much as any other bounty posted on the HuntNets! "The body of the Sebacean they killed... what became of it?" If Raine could get his paws on that body, what a fortune there was to be had!
"They took it back with them."
"Back...? To their ship, the Leviathan?"
"Still in orbit?"
Runt shook his head.
Raine stroked the fur under his chin thoughtfully for a moment. His eyes became slits as he drew his lips back, exposing his canines. "Bring alpha team to me in one quarter of an arn. I'll be on the TrailHound, loading it for takeoff."
Runt nodded and started to turn away.
"And Runt... don't be late."
Runt heard the silent "or else" at the end of that and nodded once, his throat catching. He scurried off onto the street and through the market.
Raine smiled again and threw his head back, howling at the sky. And to think, he'd just been wondering if his offerings had gone unnoticed in the stars. It just goes to show, he thought, you can't stop the strong from rising.
He turned and was gone, cloak whispering as it vanished around a corner.
Zhaan was following Aeryn through Moya. The former Peace Keeper was walking with her usual speed, and then some. Zhaan was glad she'd had the foresight to prepare the herbs she'd need ahead of time. Aeryn had been impatient enough with her as it was. If it weren't for the fact that Aeryn's obvious concern for John was endearing, Zhaan would have found Aeryn's worrying annoying.
Aeryn disappeared into John's cell, looking over her shoulder. "In here!"
Zhaan smiled patiently. "I know where his cell is, Aeryn."
Aeryn scowled at her, thinking that the time it had taken Zhaan to get here showed otherwise.
Zhaan moved past Aeryn and into John's room. "Well, good morning, John. I'm glad you've managed to wake up."
Crichton smiled at her. His voice wasn't much more than a croak, "Thanks Zhaan." He glanced down at the wrappings covering much of his torso, "...for everything."
She smiled. "My pleasure. Now that you are conscious and your body is working to heal itself, I can do a bit more to help." She hefted her pouch of herbs.
John grinned. "Anything you can do is appreciated, Zhaan. I'll get you a new robe when this is all over."
Zhaan shook her head, smiling as she started unwrapping his chest. "If you look down, remember, it looks much worse than it is."
Crichton paled a bit. If she was saying that, then it was bound to look bad. "Thanks, I'll skip. When it gets a little better I'll look myself over."
Zhaan nodded, respecting his decision, and set to work quickly and quietly.
There was a sharp intake of breath from Aeryn when Zhaan finally managed to pull the last of his wrappings off. From her face, Crichton knew it didn't just look bad, it looked horrible. He still kept his eyes firmly away from his chest, afraid to look.
As Zhaan started work on his wounds, rubbing off the herbs she'd applied earlier in the hangar, the pain started to come back with a vengeance. Crichton screwed his eyes tightly shut against it, but still couldn't keep his breathing from becoming ragged with agony.
He managed to keep from crying out. He didn't want to do that, especially not with Aeryn standing over in the corner. Great, Johnny-Boy. You've got enough holes in your chest to make Swiss cheese jealous, and you're worried about impressing the girl in the corner. He remembered the time he'd tried to jump Poyahoga Gorge on his bike to impress Maureen in the fifth grade...
But Aeryn wasn't impressed, she was too busy keeping the tears inside her head where they belonged. Her eyes were glued to Crichton's face as the pain contorted it. If it wasn't for me, she thought, if it wasn't for my recklessness... he wouldn't have to endure this now...
She thought back to what he'd said earlier. "I just couldn't let anything happen to you..." What had he meant by that? Until a few hours ago she'd thought the same thing, that she'd never let anything happen to him. But then something had happened to him, and she'd let it happen.
She closed her eyes for a moment. She heard him hiss air out through his teeth as Zhaan probed one of the wounds near his ribs, and she closed her eyes tighter. Get ahold of yourself, girl! You've seen much worse than this! Why is this bothering you?
Because I've never seen it happen to anyone I... cared for, she answered herself. Until Crichton, until she'd joined the crew of the Moya, had she ever cared for anyone?
An arn or so later, Zhaan was through and Crichton was getting his breathing back under control as the pain faded again. "How long until it's healed?"
Zhaan shook her head, "I'm not sure. Not with your species."
"What's your best guess? How long would it take for a Sebacean to heal this?"
She smiled ruefully. "I've never healed a Sebacean."
She patted his shoulder. "I'll be able to give you a rough guess when I look at you again and see the progress you've made. But for now, I'm going to inform the others of your improvement. I'll look in on you later, John."
He nodded to her slightly. "Later, Zhaan."
He turned to Aeryn a moment later, when they were alone. "Thanks, Aeryn."
Her eyes narrowed as she stepped forward. "For what?" Her voice broke a little with emotion, but she caught it quickly.
"For staying. I was... pretty scared. It helped. Thanks."
She nodded, acknowledging his thanks.
"So, what's in store for today?"
"Not much, Pilot brought us to this asteroid field just after you were hurt. We're going to hide here for a while... lay low while you recover."
His eyes lost focus for a moment as the pain welled up.
"Crichton? Crichton! Are you all right?"
"Yeah," he grunted though gritted teeth, "It just flared up a little. That's good, means it's healing."
She looked dubious but accepted his answer.
He waited as the pain receded again, and noticed another feeling. He glanced up a her, mischief in his eyes. "I don't suppose you brought that food?"
The food! She turned quickly and picked the plate of cubes up from where she'd set it earlier. "Yes, right here. Sorry, I forgot about it."
"No problem." He tried to lift his hand over to the plate... and met with little success. In other words, his hand sort of twitched a little. "Uh... Aeryn, I'm having a little trouble... I don't suppose you could..." He glanced down at the food and back up to her.
Her first instinct was to deliver a biting remark about the frailties of humans, but she held it back when the image of Crichton jumping ahead of her and bearing the brunt of a volley of shots meant for her flashed in her mind.
Crichton hated asking that of Aeryn. The last thing he wanted her to see him as was weak, but he really couldn't lift his arms and he was starving. "Just the once, Aeryn. Once I eat and get some sleep, I'll be better."
She nodded shortly and picked up the fork, stabbing a cube. She held it in his face and raised an eyebrow at him, expectantly.
"Umm, thanks..." He bit the cube off the fork and chewed quickly.
Zhaan walked up behind D'Argo on the command deck. She smiled when she saw him. He was hunched over one of the command consoles, shoulders bunched in concentration. She slid up next to him and put a hand on his back. "How are we fairing, Ka D'Argo?"
He jolted upright slightly in surprise. "Ah... Zhaan... we--we're fine." He collected himself a moment as he brought up a display. "We've maneuvered Moya deep into the asteroid field. We will be safe here for quite some time. More than long enough for John to recover. Unfortunately... since the supply run was cut short, we'll be reduced to basic rations... food cubes."
Zhaan could hear his distaste for the cubes in his voice. She smiled at him. "We'll just have to make up for it next supply run."
Rygel who'd been watching from another console, sputtered his distaste. "Food cubes... Asteroid fields," he pronounced every syllable as a complete word, "No Dominar has ever been reduced to such... conditions." He spat the last word out.
Zhaan laughed lightly. "Really, Rygel. It's better than prison."
Rygel was taken aback for a moment, but recovered neatly. "How is Crichton?"
"He's recovering. He woke up just a few arns ago. I replaced his wrappings with something that will better aid his healing. He's resilient."
D'Argo nodded his agreement. After watching John's body torn up by those smugglers, he had a new respect for the Human. If Crichton was only a scientist among his people... he hoped he'd have the opportunity to meet one of their warriors one day. Perhaps even that "Darth Vader" John had told him about. "When will he be well?"
Zhaan hesitated. "I don't know. It depends on how fast he heals. He'll probably be walking in a few days."
She nodded. "He's healing much faster than I'd expected. I didn't really think I'd see him awake for a few days. I can't be sure until I check on him again, but I believe he'll recover quickly."
"Well that's good news," Rygel cut in. "Well be out of here and on to another supply planet all the sooner."
Raine was growing impatient with Runt. "Well, where did they go?"
Runt was working frantically over the instruments of their small shuttle. "I still don't know, Uncle. Leviathans are hard to track... they don't have regular engines..." He peered into another screen and made a few adjustments. "Wait... there, in that asteroid field... I don't have a positive location on them, but they went that way."
Raine turned to Gray, the taller female Elvkish at the piloting station. He took a moment to appreciate her form, the lean deadly grace and the dark black fur. "Gray, go. But be careful, don't let them detect us. This is one of the richest hunts we've ever been on. We must *not* make the prey nervous."
She snarled a feral grin at him. "You know I'll be clawing into their backs before they catch our scent on the breeze. Don't insult me."
He let his paw slide down her side and come to rest at the soft fur of her hip. "I wouldn't dream of it." He dug his claws into the skin slightly, "as long as I don't have reason to."
He slid into his seat in the back and nodded to Villem and Namreh. "Get ready, you two. We could come upon them at any moment now. We need to capture them... alive. We'll have to be swift."
The two dipped their heads in understanding, and tightened their grips on their Gelkvisha rifles. The replied to the question of their readiness in the traditional way, "We will be strong, Prime."
Raine growled his satisfaction.
"Uncle, a Leviathan! There!"
Raine leaned forward and looked out the viewport. "So it is. Gray, get us behind that asteroid now."
He saw she was already moving to do so. He'd been more and more impressed with Gray lately. He'd been thinking of taking a mate. Perhaps he'd honor Gray with the request next season? "They didn't detect us did they?"
She shook her head. "I'm still in shadow mode. They saw nothing." She turned to grin at him savagely. "We will surprise them."
Aeryn watched Crichton swallow the last food cube.
"Damn, I never thought I'd say this, but that was good. It felt like I hadn't eaten in months."
She was still uncomfortable. Her feelings for Crichton were a jumble right now. She really wished she knew what he'd meant by that "couldn't let that happen to you" comment earlier. At the same time, she knew she couldn't ask. It might reveal the depth of her own feelings... a depth she was still plumbing herself. "You needed the fuel."
John looked sidewise at her. He sighed. He was never going to measure up, was he? "I'm sorry, Aeryn. I know playing nursemaid to the injured human isn't the most fun in the world. As soon as I'm better I'll make it up to you.
Aeryn was confused. John was apologizing? He was flat on his back, seriously injured--and should probably be dead--after saving her life, and he was apologizing to her?
She remembered when her first commander had knocked her aside during one of her first field missions, saving her from an anti-personnel mine. After that she'd been in his debt, and he hadn't let her forget it. She'd done everything for him from polishing his boots to preparing his reports. She'd practically been his slave, right up until she'd been transferred out of his command. She'd never complained either, thankful to have her life.
And yet Crichton was apologizing to her. She'd truly never met anyone like this man. "You saved my life, Crichton. It's the least I owe you."
John shook his head. She'd said it so matter-of-factly. John's father, before he'd been an astronaut, had been a marine. He remembered when he got to tag along with his dad and his dad's war buddies, back when he was still in grade school. The stories he'd heard... Jack Crichton had saved many of their lives and they'd saved his, too. But they just carried on like nothing had happened and no one owed anyone anything. "You don't owe me anything, Aeryn."
"You took an attack that was meant for me! You saved my life! I am in your debt." Did this human have no logic?
John shrugged as best he could. "You carried me back to the ship, you and D'Argo. I owe you guys, too. So let's call it even."
"That's not the same thing, Crichton."
"Aeryn... listen... I did what I had to do. It was my decision. I'm sorry of little 'ol human me wounded your big bad Peace Keeper pride, but that's now what I was tying to do."
Anger flashed through Aeryn's eyes. "What were you trying to do?"
"Well, I dunno. Save you."
"Why? Well... because if I ever saw you hurt I'd..."
Aeryn broke in, letting her anger show. "You'd feel like I feel right now? Watching your friend in pain and suffering and knowing that it's your fault? Dammit, Crichton, I'm not upset because you 'wounded my Peace Keeper pride,' I'm upset because I'm worried about you, and have been ever since that damned planet!"
Crichton's jaw had dropped some time ago. It'd never even crossed his mind that Aeryn was concerned for him. He'd just assumed... He was so used to the cold-hearted act she put on day after day that even he'd started to believe it. How could he have been so thoughtless? "Aeryn... I'm sorry... I didn't think that... I just didn't think. You think this is your fault?"
She was terse. "Is there another way to look at it?"
"And how's that?"
"That it's... not your fault...?"
"How is it not my fault?"
"It's just... not. You can't blame yourself for what happened back there. You didn't wind up in danger because you made a mistake. There was no way you could have known they'd be there. If there was a way you could have known, you'd have known, trust me. It was just the way things went. You can't blame yourself for everything."
She shrugged, not committing to an answer.
"God, and you've been blaming yourself this whole time? Aeryn, if I could move my arms I'd hug you. None of this is your fault. I don't blame you. D'Argo doesn't blame you. Zhaan doesn't. Rygel probably doesn't, but who knows. So why should you blame yourself?"
She saw that Crichton was starting to have trouble keeping his eyes open, and she could hear the fatigue in his voice. "I'm going to go get some sleep, Crichton. You should too. I'll come by later."
He deflated a little as he realized he hadn't quite gotten through to her. "Good night, Aeryn."
"Are we in position?"
Gray adjusted a few controls on her console. "Crouched and ready to pounce, Prime."
He growled softly in anticipation. "Good. Very good. Runt, are you sure this is going to work?"
Runt nodded carefully. "The Leviathan is alive, Uncle. We'll do just like a Spartsa fish when it buries itself into a large Vlurma, once we're in the ship cannot harm us..."
"...leaving us free to deal with her crew," Raine finished. "Excellent. We'll check our equipment one more time, and then we pounce. Everything must run smoothly."
He turned to the two in back. "Villem, Namreh, you've seen our prey? One Sebacean was killed on the planet. There is another Sebacean, a Delvian, a Luxan, and a Hynerian. Four of them and five of us. Once we have them under control, we'll take the ship to the Peace Keepers, and collect our bounty."
He motioned to Gray. "Pounce."
D'Argo gripped his console as Moya started vibrating beneath him, and was thrown bodily to the floor as she lurched suddenly. "Pilot! What was that?"
"I don't know... Moya, she's in pain, I'm trying to calm her down."
"It felt like something hit us..."
Zhaan was picking herself up off the floor as well. "Something did hit us. Pilot, an asteroid?"
Pilot was frantically hitting buttons and controls with his lobster like claws. "I don't think so, give me a moment..."
Aeryn came rushing in. "What in the frell was that?"
D'Argo shook his head, "We don't know yet, Pilot!?"
"I'm working on it, Moya is confused and scared! When she gives me an answer I can understand, I'll tell you."
D'Argo was about to say something a little more forceful, when Zhaan put a restraining hand on his arm. "We're sorry, Pilot. Just let us know as soon as you can."
"Moya's showing me... my word! Look at this!"
The holographic monitor switched from a view of pilot to a view of a small ship. It had a claw-like shape, looking black and deadly. As they watched, the ship accelerated in at Moya, slicing into her with a laser and then -- the ship wedged itself into Moya's wound!
Aeryn was the first to recover speech. "We're boarded! Pilot, where are they?"
D'Argo and Aeryn were headed toward the breach. Both were weighed down with enough weapons to wage a war. They meant business.
A moment later, they were carefully moving in on the area they knew the breach to be in. Aeryn was sliding against the wall, ready to shoot, when she heard the click and hum of an energy weapon being charged behind her.
"Drop your weapons. We want you alive."
They'd gotten behind them! How had they done that?! Aeryn and D'Argo exchanged questioning looks. After a moment, D'Argo sighed and shook his head imperceptibly. He lay his Qualta blade at his feet.
Aeryn narrowed her eyes and half-growled in frustration as she followed suit.
As soon as she had, she felt a rough hand on her wrist, spinning her around. She found herself staring straight into the face of a snarling Elvkish.
Raine strode arrogantly into the mess hall. The Delvian, Sebacean, Hynerian, and even the big Luxan were sitting on the floor in the corner, bound at their wrists.
Runt stepped forward. "We got them all, Uncle."
Raine nodded but looked past Runt to Gray. "Were they any trouble."
Gray shook her head. "No, Prime. We took them without a fight. Even the Luxan."
Raine growled his satisfaction, but Gray recognized a curious edge to the growl. He expected more of a fight from such a rich bounty, she realized. The thought made her the prouder. After all, who could put up a fight against the finest of the Elvkish Hunters?
"John Crichton! Wake up!"
Crichton stirred for a moment but rolled back over and pulled his pillow to him. "Aeryn..."
It had really been a perfectly pleasant--and clean--dream... until the DRD shocked him awake.
"Pilot?" He winced and rubbed his side. The DRD's packed a wallop when they wanted to. "What in the hell's going on?"
"Can you walk?"
Crichton was more confused now. Just a moment ago, he'd been at home--earth, showing Aeryn the Grand Canyon. Now he'd been shocked awake with the DRD version of a cattle prod and Pilot was asking him strange questions. "Can I what?"
Pilot was impatient, "Can you walk?"
"I... I'm not sure. Maybe. Why?"
"We've got intruders. They've taken the others captive. They believe you are dead, but they're sure to search Moya. If you don't get out of your room, you'll be found and we won't have a chance."
The sleepiness dissipated immediately. "Are you serious?"
"Damn..." Crichton breathed deeply for a moment, steeling himself, and then he rolled his body, flopping himself to the floor. "Owwww!" He pounded the deck with a fist. "Jesus, that hurt." He eyed his fist... he'd moved it! He smiled for a second, the situation momentarily forgotten. "Zhaan's herbs must be working their magic."
He used his hands and pulled himself to the door. "Pilot, where am I supposed to go?"
"Just follow the DRD. I'll have it take you some place safe to hide."
Crichton wondered what he was supposed to do after he hid, but shook the thought away. Best to worry about that when he was there. One thing at a time. He watched the DRD and drug himself along the deck behind it.
Raine held up his hand. "We've seized the prey. Time to move on to the second phase. We're going to take them in with the Leviathan, there's a hefty reward for it, too. Runt, you take that blue one. Seize the controls to the ship. Be sure you keep her with you. We can be sure that if we're ever caught alone, the Pilot of this thing will seal us off and deny us air."
"Gray, you and Villem take the Sebacean. Sweep the ship, make sure we're alone."
"Namreh, you'll stay with me and help guard these two." Raine gestured to D'Argo and Rygel. He looked at Runt and Gray. "Go."
He smiled as they left. Very soon now, he'd be rich. With the wealth these bounties would bring him... he'd be a power to be dealt with.
Aeryn was prodded in the back with the energy rifle.
"Keep moving, Sebacean."
Aeryn kept walking. Two more cells and they'd be at Crichton's. She had to figure out something... some way to keep them from finding him. Not only did she owe him, but... she didn't want to see anything happen to him.
Villem stock his huge head in the door and looked back at the black-furred female. Gray was her name, Aeryn thought. "Clear," came Villem's deep voice.
They walked on to the next one. Only one cell away now... she had to think fast...
Crichton's cell. Villem was just starting to stick his head in the door. Aeryn slowed her breathing and tensed slightly. When Villem reported John's presence, she'd attack the female. Hopefully she'd stand a chance hand to hand against her, there was no way she could take the huge male.
Then... if she could get ahold of the female's weapon, she could eliminate the male. It was a long shot, but one she'd have to take... for Crichton's sake.
Villem's head started to turn back to Gray. Here it comes... she drew in a breath...
Clear? Aeryn's surprise showed momentarily, but she quickly hid it. She couldn't let them see that she'd expected some one to be in there... where in the frell was he?
John pinched his nose. "Pilot, do I even want to know where I am?"
"Deep in the bowels of Moya, where they will not find you."
"The bowels of Moya..." He echoed. He paused and glanced up. "Is that literal, Pilot?"
"Umm... Moya prefers that I not answer that, Crichton."
John nodded shortly. "Gotcha." He resolved to touch the walls as little as possible.
He stretched for a moment, testing what he could move. His arms moved fine, just a little weak. He could sort of flop his legs around, but there was no way he could walk. Not yet, at least. "Man, I wish I knew what Zhaan put in those bandages. What's our situation, Pilot?"
There was a pause before John's comm answered. "Five intruders have taken Moya. I have sealed them out of Command and my chamber for now. They are working to get through, but they haven't brought any cutting tools and their weapons won't penetrate Moya's bulkheads. We seem to be at an impasse for the moment. They've taken everyone but you into custody."
"Everyone but me, huh?" Crichton sighed. "Well, there's only one thing to do then, Pilot. We've got to take the ship back." He glanced down at himself. "And don't ask me how..."