Aeryn stopped mid-step at the sound of the harsh voice speaking Johnny’s name. She had been searching for him for quarter of an arn. One microt, he was sitting at her feet playing with a small sralzik, laughing at the small gold wings that protruded from its neckline. Turning away only long enough to pay for their meal, she was surprised to find him and the creature gone. Angry, she began calling him until she spotted his comm lying on the ground.
“John Crichton, I order you to come out immediately or you will be fire upon!” This time the voice was louder, more demanding. It appeared to come from an alley only a short distance from her.
Stepping up to the entrance quietly, she saw six Peacekeepers standing in a semi-circle around several large pallets of dry goods. Scanning the close quarters of the area, she didn’t see Johnny until he spoke again. It appeared he had crawled in between two of the taller stacked pallets, trying to hide from the men.
Tapping her comm, she whispered, “John…John! Frelling answer me.”
“Yeah, babe. Wha…”
“Shut up and listen. There are Peacekeepers on the planet, and they’ve captured Johnny!”
“How in the frell did they get him?”
“Later. Just get here fast. There are six commandos. We’re in the rear quadrant of the produce market.”
“Aeryn, don’t do anything stupid. I’m on my way.” She could tell by the breathlessness of his voice that John was running.
Body tense, her eyes had never left the group of men surrounding Johnny. The area was small where they were contained, and she quickly scanned the area hoping a solution would present itself quickly.
She didn’t find one.
Several women brushed by her, their eyes shifting between her and the men in the ally. They quickly moved on, clutching their purchases close to their bodies.
The soldiers moved in closer, their feet kicking up small clouds of dust.
The growing certainty that John would not arrive in time to aid them, along with not knowing what further damage the stun from the rifles would have on Johnny, Aeryn made a decision that she knew was suicidal at best. Stepping from around the corner, her legs spread and arms outstretched, she shouted, “Step away from him now!”
Three of the six men turned in her direction, immediately sighting their weapons.
“Officer Sun, drop your weapon. We only have orders to take Crichton in. I will not hesitate to have my men use extreme force.” The voice she’d heard came from behind the men facing her. One of the remaining three facing Johnny lowered his weapon and turned to face her. From the markings on his uniform, his rank was lieutenant and he was obviously in charge of the group.
“Mommy, I’m scared!” Johnny’s muffled voice called out from between the stacks. Aeryn could tell by the sound that he was crying, and on the edge of hysteria.
The men advanced more toward him and she didn’t see any other option but the inevitable. Throwing down her pistol, she took a step forward. “I can get him out of there. He only listens to me.”
“Do it,” the lieutenant said, he rifle waving slightly for her to move.
Stepping slowly, Aeryn moved toward the opening and held out her hand. “Come out, Johnny. I won’t let them harm you.”
“They scare me and they got guns, and you and daddy said guns make people dead.”
She could see that the men were growing anxious, probably thinking this was a trap of some sort. They were trained to face situations with unknown factors, but their reputations were working against them at this moment. “Johnny, come out now,” she commanded, “I won’t let them shoot you.”
The stacks shook slightly as he crawled out. His face was dirty and tears streaked his face as he bit his lip nervously. Aeryn took Johnny’s hand to help him stand upright. He quickly wrapped his arms around her neck and squeezed tightly, crying, “Please make them go away, I’m scared.”
“I know, but I want you to be brave for me now. Can you do that?” she asked, prying his arms away and wiped the tears from his face.
The soldiers circled them. “Why does he call you that?”
Squaring her shoulders, Aeryn faced the men. “Because to him, I am.” Johnny ducked behind her and attempted to hide despite his promise a microt before.
The lieutenant sneered in disgust, but it was apparent he wasn’t to be fooled by anything they might attempt. “What kind of trick is this? The records show that he’s human, not sebacean.” As he spoke, another group of soldiers, making the total in the alley twelve, arrived.
The man was the commanding officer of the group, but he was still only of low ranking echelon. The only thinking required of him was when his next order would arrive.
“I wouldn’t expect someone with such limited thinking capacity to understand, so why bother explaining it to you,” she stated.
Standing to her side, he leaned in toward her, his face close enough that she could see veins in his green eyes and smell the stale Raslak on his breath. “Well then. You can explain it to Scorpius when you see him.” Reaching around her waist, the lieutenant grabbed her wrists, turning her to face him, and slapped a restraint against them. Stepping around, he made to grab Johnny’s arms, causing the man to cry out and pull his arm out of distance.
Another soldier brought the butt of his rifle up. Aeryn shouted, “No! He’s just frightened, he doesn’t understand.”
Too late, the rifle came down with a sharp crack against the human’s skull, knocking him unconscious.
“You frelling bastard. John would have gone with you without a problem, he was only scared.”
The lieutenant looked at the man lying on the dirt and motioned for him to be carried.
“Now, he’ll definitely be no problem. Will he?” He smirked, and walked out of the alley. “We’re leaving immediately. Leave is canceled.”
‘John, I’m so sorry,’ Aeryn thought as she was shoved forward, following behind the two soldiers that carried Johnny’s limp body. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him and thought how she had failed.
Staring impotently at the alley filling with soldiers. “Son of a bitch,” he hissed. “Crais…come in.” Then he remembered that Crais was out of range and only in a transport pod until Talyn’s repairs were finished. Cursing at his stupidity for leaving them alone, John felt helpless. They’d been in bad situations before, but he always had someone at his back. If he went in there alone, the only thing that would be accomplished would be the deaths of those he loved.
The crowd had thinned out dramatically, almost as if word had gotten out and no one wanted to get involved. The few men that he saw on the cobbled street averted their eyes and walked even faster away from the scene unfolding a few motras away from them.
John heard Aeryn scream, “No! He’s just frightened, he doesn’t understand.” Cringing in sympathy when the blow struck Johnny, he hung his head in shame for a moment. The Peacekeepers would never leave them alone. His teeth ground together, rage filling him as he witnessed Aeryn being pushed forward behind the two soldiers carrying Johnny.
“What do you want now? You do realize I’m in the middle of something important here.”
“Shut up! Quit stuffing your face and go to ground. There are Peacekeepers here. They’ve got Aeryn and Johnny and from the looks of it, ready to head out.”
“Are they all right?” came the surprising response.
John heard the soldiers approach; quickly turning off his comm, he hid out of sight. Hating himself for being such a coward.
They passed by closely enough for him to see that Aeryn’s eyes never left Johnny as she followed. Seeing how her shoulders slumped, he knew that she blamed herself for not protecting Johnny better.
He trailed behind, keeping as far back as he dared. Hoping he wouldn’t be spotted by one of the men in formation if they happened to turn around.
One followed further back than the others, obviously keeping an eye out for any danger to the squad.
John started forward, waiting for his opportunity to kill the man, thinking that he could use the uniform to gain access to their ship and find a way for Johnny and Aeryn to escape. The plan was one of his worse, but it was all he had at the moment.
“Crichton, don’t do it,” came a whisper behind him. Turning swiftly, the tip of Winona’s muzzle touched Rygel’s forehead. Pointing it away, John told him, “Shut up.” Glancing back in the other direction, John saw his opportunity was gone.
The pistol returned to rest between Rygel’s eyes. “You son of a bitch! I had a chance to get on the Marauder with them.” The edges of his vision darkened slightly along the edges and he knew he was close to completely losing control.
Rygel’s chest swelled with bravado, but John could see misery staring back at him. “Listen to me, Crichton. I know you. Or at least well enough to know what you had planned on doing. Once you got on that ship, what would you have done? Those commandos are a unit, they eat, sleep, and frell as one. They would know if one of their own wasn’t acting normally, and you would be captured as well.”
John knew he was right, and lowered the gun to his side. “I have to do something before they get away.”
Rygel blew out a sigh of relief and continued, “Think about it, and let it penetrate that thick skull of yours. What would Scorpius do if he had two John Crichtons in his possession, especially if one of them were obviously suffering from mental damage? Johnny would be dead in less than an arn, or be turned into an experiment to find out how to make you cooperate more easily.”
John felt as if he was going to be sick, but his anger pushed it aside effortlessly. Hs chest tightened and he found it hard to breathe. “What else can I do, Rygel. Just stand there with my thumb up my butt and whistle while they’re being tortured?”
The Hynerian’s earbrows drooped for a moment as he stared back in silence. The throne-sled raised a few denches higher. “No. We wait for Crais to return with Talyn. He knows that command carrier and its strengths and weaknesses. It would be foolish for us to go into the situation completely blind,” he answered, sitting back as he finished.
“Us? So you’re in this all the way, Sparky?”
“Yes. Us. As much as you have completely frelled up my life, I’ve grown fond of you all. Especially, the boy.” John couldn’t help the look of surprise crossing his face. “Yes, yes, I know he’s you. But for the appearance of his body, he is just a boy.”
Nodding in agreement, John felt some of the rage leave him and be replaced by exhaustion. “You’re right, about everything. I just fee like I’ve failed them.”
“How could you have failed? Before we left Talyn, we were all on the bridge when the scans came back negative for any Peacekeeper presence.”
John leaned against the wall and slid down.
“Be patient, John. Crais should be returning any microt with Talyn.”
Rygel’s assurance seemed distant and hollow. Resting his head in his hands, John didn’t say another word until the gunship’s return.
There is a new community called evilplotbunny, you know I had to join. Apparently I was the inspiration for it. Does that make me a bunny? hehe