|Pocket Full of Posies
Author: HumansRSuperior PM
Takes place six months after PKW. Crichton and Aeryn return to Moya after a trip to a commerce planet to find that Moya has been attacked by the Scarrans, and their infant son D'Argo taken hostage. John and Aeryn follow after the Scarrans in hopes of saviRated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Tragedy - Chapters: 10 - Words: 49,224 - Reviews: 38 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 10-27-05 - Published: 09-19-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2586207
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Pocket Full of Posies
Beta: Peacekeeper Scum
Time Period: Six months after PKW
Chapter Total: 10
Author's Note: Hey everybody! Unless of course something happens (example: my older brother hogs the computer selfishly every day of the week) that prevents me from doing so (this is unlikely to happen). Now, on to the important note (below).
VERY IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ!
I'm doing something a little different with this story. You might have noticed that the first chapter number is 10 rather than 1. Allow me to explain. Clears throat I have decided to number the chapters backwards - no, this does not mean that you are reading the story backwards; it merely means that it's counting down instead of up. The idea of doing this is to give the readers an understanding of how far along they are in the story and how close they are getting to the end - sort of like a countdown. So the first chapter is 10, and ends on 1. Make sense? I hope it's not too confusing. When I post a new chapter, I will title the thread something like "Pocket Full of Posies - New Chapter (date)" or something rather (like today would be 9/19, it'll be that). Cause I figure, if I put "Pocket Full of Posies - Part 8" then it will confuse late readers. Gosh, I hope I'm not confusing anybody right now...
Okay, so this story has been in the works pretty much the minute I finished the last chapter of 'The Nebari Factor' way back in early June. This story is very near completion; I am working on the last chapter as we speak. Yes, that means that most of this story is already written - 10 chapters in total. So never fear! I will have a chapter up every week! Anyways, I will have this note posted in every chapter for new comers or to remind others. So, now, enough talk, on with the story. I most certainly hope you all find it interesting enough to tune in next week. New chapters will be posted every Wednesday (may sometimes be a different day if I am unable to access the computer). Anyhoot! Here we go.
Oh yeah, and incase any of you forgot where the term Pocket Full of Posies comes from: Ring around the rosies, pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
Crichton had grown to hate heat with a passion. It had become his greatest fear, his biggest annoyance, the provocation of anger. He wasn't even Sebacean, but Humans were susceptible to intense heat as well. And they knew that.
He had lost track of time. He wasn't sure if it had been hours, days, or weeks. And at some point he had lost interest and he didn't even care anymore.
He hadn't eaten since...however long he's been in here. But it didn't really matter, his throat was too parched to swallow. He didn't even feel the hunger that was gnawing at his stomach. The boiling air took his mind off that.
The only good thing about all this was that the figure beside Crichton was suffering far more than he was. The creature lay sprawled on the floor, convulsing and panting heavily, spitting thick saliva and foam into the air, the bloody, steaming rod protruding from his head.
"C-C-Cricht-ton..." the creature gasped raspily. "I c-can help-p yo-ou."
"You can't even help yourself, Grasshopper," Crichton said, his voice hoarse and slow.
Scorpius grabbed Crichton's leg. "A-Aer-yn-n...sh-she is h-here..."
"I know that, Scorpy, shut up," Crichton snarled weakly, and he pulled his leg away from the hybrid's hand.
"They will k-kill her!"
"No they won't, they need her as a bargaining chip. Now shut up," Crichton said, his voice carrying more venom.
He shut his eyes and tried to block off the half-breed's heavy panting. He had given up trying to ignore the scorching, stale air. It had been easy in the beginning, but now it was no longer possible. When they had first thrown him in here it had only been stuffy. But over the hours the subtle warmth had gradually increased. It probably still was.
His thoughts wandered to Aeryn, where they had been for the majority of his time spent in his cell. He didn't know where they were keeping her or what they were doing to her; he just hoped that she wasn't being subjected to heat like he was. He told himself that she couldn't be. They knew better than that, that Sebaceans would overheat and die from such intense temperature levels. And they needed her alive.
Crichton didn't know why they needed her; they already had D'Argo. He had given them exactly what they wanted for his son's safety. Perhaps they just wished to use all he held dear, the things he loved most, to gain the most advantage. Or maybe they just wanted to make him suffer the most he possibly could; that would be in their nature.
His mind left Aeryn and he began to wonder for the hundredth time what had possessed him to do what they had asked. The answer was always the same, no matter what reasoning he would use. They had taken something precious to him, to both him and Aeryn, and he had wanted it back. Aeryn did too, he knew that, but she had used more logic than he had. She was always the clearer thinker in difficult situations.
He supposed it completed the set nicely; he had bombed and killed for his wife, then he handed them the ultimate source of their power for his son. In the end he got nothing in return, it was all taken from him instead, and he was thrown in a cell with the devil.
The heat was making his mind fuzzy again. That happened when he thought too much. He swallowed, which he immediately regretted because it caused his throat to flare with pain. He didn't move to wipe the burning sweat out of his eyes; he was too weak and tired.
The overheating creature beside him continued to squirm pathetically on the ground, but Crichton could barely sense its presence anymore. His mind seemed to have clouded with a heavy fog, and the events of the last days, perhaps weeks, began to replay through his mind - from the very beginning.
"We stay together," Aeryn ordered as her eyes scanned the surroundings.
"Wouldn't have it any other way," Crichton said.
"We look for Chiana or Noranti first."
"What about D'Argo?"
"He'll be with one of them."
"Right," Crichton said with a nod. "Let's move then."
Crichton followed Aeryn as she cautiously made her way through Moya's corridors. Both of them had their pulse pistols up, ready for anything.
They both whirled around, ready for action, but froze once they saw Chiana. She looked bad; there were scratches and bruises all over her face, and blue blood was smeared across her cheek.
"Pip, are you okay?" Crichton asked, taking in her appearance. "What happened?"
The Nebari looked panicked. Her eyes were darting back and forth between Crichton and Aeryn, wide and alert. She was moving her feet around constantly and clutching a pulse rifle in her hands.
"Chiana, it's okay," Aeryn said. She was trying to be comforting but her voice was stern. "Tell us what happened."
Chiana swallowed hard. "Th-they came a-and they attacked us."
"Who's 'they?'" Crichton asked.
"S-Scarrans," answered Chiana, her voice quivering.
Fear and dread pitted in Crichton's stomach, and he exchanged glances with Aeryn.
"What were they doing here? What did they want?" asked Aeryn.
Chiana's eyes shifted over to Crichton. "Th-they were looking f-for you. A-and when they c-couldn't find you, they..." She stopped, fear bright in her eyes.
"They what, Chiana?" Crichton pressed.
The Nebari just stared at him, standing completely still, her cat-eyes still filled with fear. "They...they took the little guy...little Crichton."
For a moment there was only silence as Crichton and Aeryn just stared at Chiana. Then Aeryn exploded in anger.
"What the frell is the matter with you, Chiana?" she snapped. "John and I leave to pick up supplies for less than an arn and we come back and D'Argo's gone! We trusted you, Chiana! You were supposed to protect him!"
"I tried, Aeryn!" Chiana shrieked, snapping her head in Aeryn's direction. "I did every frelling thing I could, but there were too many and they were too strong!"
"Why did they take him? Why were they looking for John?" Aeryn asked harshly.
Chiana shook her head. "I don't...I don't know. B-but Pilot says they left some coordinates or something," she said, looking over at Crichton.
Crichton wasn't really paying attention to what Chiana was saying. His thoughts were on the Scarrans and his son. Cold fear was pumping through his veins and his throat felt tight. Scarrans had his child. D'Argo was with the Scarrans.
Anger suddenly clicked inside him, flaring in his chest, and without a glance at Chiana or his wife, he spun around on his heel and charged off down the corridor.
"John!" Aeryn called after him. She ran up beside him and easily kept up with him. "John, where are you going?"
"To talk to Pilot."
Neither of them said another word as they quickly made their way to Pilot's den. Crichton squeezed through the door before it even fully swiveled open and stormed across the catwalk over to Pilot's console.
"Commander Crichton, Officer Sun," Pilot acknowledged their entrance, turning to face them. "I have some bad news - "
"We know, Pilot," Crichton interrupted, stopping at the edge of the console. "What did the Scarrans want with me?" he asked darkly.
"I'm afraid I do not know," Pilot answered regrettably. "However, they left a set of coordinates and asked that I give them to you."
"Why? Where do they lead to?" Aeryn asked.
"I'm afraid I don't know that either, Officer Sun," Pilot said.
Crichton worked his jaw in frustration and anger. The Scarrans couldn't find him, so they took D'Argo. He wasn't sure if they did it because they wanted him to follow them, or because they wanted his son for some other reason. The thought made him shudder. He turned from Pilot's console and cursed sharply. Letting out a deep sigh, he placed one hand on his hip and the other over his eyes.
"What do you want to do?" Aeryn asked him.
He didn't answer her immediately; he slid his hand down to his mouth and stroked his lip ponderously with his thumb. Then, opening his eyes, he said, "I'll go."
"You're going to go after them?" she asked.
"I don't have a choice, Aeryn. They have our son."
Aeryn walked over beside him, looking hard into his face. "I'm coming with you."
Crichton dropped his hand and turned to face her. "Aeryn - "
"Don't argue with me, John!" she barked. "D'Argo's my son, too! And I'm not letting you go by yourself!"
He stared at her, trying to come up with an argument, but he could think of none. He might as well just let her come, he knew he wanted her to.
"Fine," he sighed. "Pilot, we're leaving ASAP. Once we get out, send us the coordinates."
Once Crichton and Aeryn made it back to the corridor, they headed for their quarters, walking swiftly.
"Why would the Scarrans be looking for you?" asked Aeryn.
"Do you think it has anything to do with wormholes?" she asked tentatively.
Crichton's stomach curled at the cursed word and he clamped his teeth down hard. "I'll be frelled if it does," he growled.
As soon as they got to their room, Aeryn grabbed more chakken oil cartridges while Crichton tore off his leather jacket and grabbed his trench coat. He glanced at his wife, saw she was ready, and headed for the door. He nearly collided with Rygel.
"Crichton!" the Hynerian gasped in a panic. The flesh on his face looked red and burnt, and scorch marks were on his clothes. "The Scarrans! They took the baby!"
"We know, Buckwheat, get outta the way," Crichton said as he pushed passed the Hynerian.
Rygel frowned angrily and lowered his earbrows. "After all the effort I made to come down here and tell you...this is how I am treated! Frelling welnitz!" He turned his throne-sled and whizzed off grumbling.
Crichton anxiously tapped his fingers on Wynona as he walked to the hangar, Aeryn at his side. All he could think about was that his little tadpole was in the hands of the Scarrans, and it scared him to no end. It was making his hands shake and he tapped on Wynona with more vigor.
Aeryn and Crichton halted abruptly when Noranti ran out into the corridor, blocking their path. She didn't look any better than Rygel, with red hot marks across her face. "The child!" she wailed. "The child has been taken!"
"We know!" Crichton shouted irritably; his patience was wearing thin very quickly.
He firmly pushed her out of the way and Aeryn followed. They ignored Noranti's panicked rambling as they rounded a corner and finally came to hangar bay door.
"We'll take my module," Crichton said as he strode over to the Farscape One.
Aeryn glanced longingly at her prowler. "My prowler would be safer," she said.
"I know," he said as he grabbed the scanner for a quick checkup. "But incase the Iguanas want wormholes..." His voice died and he clamped his mouth shut.
"What would it matter? You don't know anything about wormholes anymore," she firmly reminded him.
"I know, but..." He sighed. "Aeryn, just go with me on this, please."
Aeryn stood still and watched him as he ran the scanner over his primitive vessel. "Do you really think we'll need it?"
Crichton paused for a second, then said softly, "I hope not."
"Yes Commander," Pilot's voice came over the comms channel.
Crichton flipped a few switches, checked some readings, pressed a couple buttons. Moya was floating close by outside his cockpit window and he watched her sorrowfully. There was a tight feeling in the pit of his stomach that he wouldn't be seeing the leviathan for a while.
The console in front of him beeped, drawing his attention. The coordinates were displayed across the small screen to his right.
"Where is it?" Aeryn asked from behind, peering over his shoulder.
"It's not too far from here," Crichton replied as he studied the screen. "Thanks, Pilot," he called into the comms, looking back up longingly at Moya.
"Of course, Commander. Moya and I wish you safety on your journey."
Crichton smiled wanly. "Thanks man."
"Hey old man?" Chiana's voice crackled over the comms.
"Be...be careful, okay? And...and come back soon."
"We'll be back before you know it," said Crichton half-heartedly. "Take care of Moya and Pilot."
Planting his hand on the piloting controls, he reached up and punched on the engine. The small ship jolted slightly with ignition. Crichton looked at Moya one last time before placing both hands on the steering controls and making a sharp turn in the opposite direction.
His mind made a quick transition from sorrowful to determined. He squeezed the flight controls with a tight grasp as he stared at the stars ahead. Don't worry, Little D, he thought. Daddy's coming to get you.
Crichton had tried not to get irritated with her; he knew she was as anxious and worried as he was. But his patience had finally worn out.
"For the hundredth time, Aeryn, I know what I'm doing," he said irritably.
"It's been well over an arn, John!" Aeryn hissed. "You said it wasn't far from Moya!"
Crichton glanced at the small screen displaying the coordinates and he mumbled, "Well Honey, it's taking a little longer."
He half expected her to demand they stop and ask for directions.
"We should have taken my prowler," she huffed. "We would have gotten there a long time ago."
"Well, this is a primitive vessel, and I am just a weak and inferior Human," Crichton said sarcastically.
"This isn't primitive, this is a piece of dren. Can't it go any faster?"
Crichton gritted his teeth in uprising anger. "I'm going as fast as I can, Aeryn."
"Listen Aeryn, I'm just as worried about him as you are. But bitching at me isn't gonna get us there any faster."
He thought for sure he'd get clobbered or snapped at, but Aeryn was silent.
Lifting a sore, stiff hand from the piloting controls, Crichton gave his eyes a good scrub, then placed his hand back. They had been in here for a while now, and being in his module for long periods of time always brought back unpleasant memories. And to make it worse, he and Aeryn had been bickering and fighting the entire time. Crichton knew they were both on edge, but it wasn't helping matters any.
All weariness suddenly vanished from his body and he sat up straight in his seat.
"John? What is it?" Aeryn asked.
Crichton squinted his eyes; when he was certain of what he was seeing, a cold and hard feeling settled in his stomach.
"John, what's the matter?"
He leaned back in his seat, his eyes still glued to the distant object. He should have known; he should have expected it. He didn't know why he hadn't.
"Two dreadnaughts and a striker," Aeryn murmured next to his ear, leaning over the seat to see out the cockpit.
"Which one do you think he's on?" Crichton asked quietly, more to himself than to Aeryn.
"The striker," she replied without hesitation.
Crichton's stomach had turned to lead, and all he could think was: Little D's on that ship...D'Argo's on a Scarran striker...My son is being held captive by Scarrans...My four month old son is with the Scarrans...
"John!" Aeryn's harsh voice snapped him back into reality.
"What?" Crichton asked dazedly. "What happened?"
A small beeping sound was coming from his console, drawing his eyes from the looming scarran striker. It was an incoming signal. For a second he just stared at it; then he hesitantly reached for the switch. He held his hand above it uncertainly, the soft beeping filling the small cockpit.
"Open the frelling comms channel!" Aeryn hissed.
Crichton broke out of his reverie and cleared his throat. "Uh...right," he said, and flipped the switch.
"John Crichton," a deep, throaty voice boomed through the comms.
"Yeah, I'm here," Crichton responded.
"We welcome you warmly," the Scarran said.
Yeah right, Crichton thought.
"Emperor Staleek commands that you board his striker immediately."
"Love to," Crichton replied, glaring out at the Scarran vessel.
"What, John?" She sounded like she was off somewhere else.
"Um..." He pursed his lips and swallowed hard. "I'm...I'm glad you came with me."
He felt like such a wimp. He reasoned with himself that he would not be this scared if his son wasn't on board, being held prisoner of the Scarrans. Yeah, that was it.
Aeryn made no response. The module jolted and clanked as it settled to the floor of the vast hangar. A large group of heavily armored Scarrans carrying weapons surrounded the ship; Crichton's insides churned and his heart pounded in his ears.
"John, open the hatch," Aeryn directed firmly.
He glanced down at his thigh to make sure Wynona was still there before flipping the switch to open the cockpit. As the hatch slowly rose, Crichton stiffly pulled himself up. There were probably hundreds of scarrans surrounding his module; he suddenly felt very hot and his heart raced faster. Mentally kicking himself, he climbed out of the cockpit. His feet hit the floor, the loud thud being the only sound in the hangar. Aeryn jumped out and landed next to him.
The crowd parted and a large Scarran in highly decorated armor approached them. "John Crichton," he greeted. "And Officer Aeryn Sun. We welcome you."
"Where's D'Argo?" Aeryn demanded coldly.
The Scarran pretended not to hear. "Come with me. The Emperor is waiting to see you."
Crichton thought for sure that Aeryn would protest and demand to see D'Argo. But instead she inhaled deeply and nodded.
"Right then," Crichton said as he looked from his wife to the Scarran. "Let's all go see Emperor Sleezestack."
"John Crichton," Staleek greeted slowly, turning to face him. "We meet again."
"What the hell are you doing with my son?" Crichton growled, his eyes glued to his smiling child.
Staleek smiled and looked back down at D'Argo. "We were just getting to know each other." He held out a clawed finger and D'Argo giggled, happily wrapping his tiny hand around it.
"Don't you frelling touch him!" Aeryn snapped.
The surrounding guards immediately pointed their weapons directly at Crichton and Aeryn.
"Honey..." Crichton growled quietly.
Staleek pulled his finger away from the baby and looked back over at Crichton. "You were not on the leviathan."
"So you took my kid. You could've just left a note," Crichton said darkly. "What do you want, Staleek?"
The Emperor grinned again, and eased himself down into his throne. "I commend you for bringing the war between my species and the Peacekeepers to an end. But we have come to a problem."
"What, you've still got a lust for conquering planets and killing people?" Crichton said with a cock of his head.
"No," Staleek snarled. "You know of our Crystherium Utilia?"
Crichton stared at the Scarran blankly, racking his brain for that term.
"You destroyed our entire growth of it on Katratzi," the Emperor reminded him with a scowl.
"Oh...Bird of Paradise, right," Crichton nodded. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"You know of it's importance."
It suddenly hit Crichton ten fold. The flowers were the ultimate power source for the entire Scarran race. It was the base of their technology and their lives. And he had blown up the mother plant on Katratzi.
"Yeah, I remember," he murmured.
Staleek had a glint of anger in his reptilian eyes. "We have been searching for more of the Crystherium Utilia, but we have found no trace of them on any planet."
"So what?" Crichton said. He had a building fear of what this was about. Please, God no, please, please, please...
"It soon came to my mind that you knew well of our delicacy," Staleek recalled. His grin vanished and his eyes darkened with a sharp glare. "Your home planet grows the Crystherium Utilia."
"Just because he knew about it doesn't mean his home world has it," Aeryn chimed in.
Staleek's eyes shifted to Aeryn. "He had many names for it." His gaze darted back to Crichton. "Our Crystherium is the Scarran empire's highest secret. It is unlikely that Crichton would know of it unless his home world carried them."
"I did have a little help in the education department on the flowers," Crichton pointed out.
"But you already knew what the plant was."
"No, I didn't know - "
Staleek thrust his hand out and a powerful ray of heat shot out towards Crichton's face. Crichton fell to his knees; Aeryn tried to help him but a guard grabbed her and held her back.
"Get - off - me!" Crichton growled through gritted teeth. He felt like he was about to overload; his face felt like it was on fire.
"Crystherium is on your planet, isn't it?" Staleek growled.
Crichton grunted, trying to fight against the powerful heat. He pursed his lips and tried to force out the word "no," but instead he said "Y-Yes."
Staleek pulled his hand back, ending the heat probe. Crichton keeled forward, but caught himself on his hands. Aeryn tore away from the Scarran guard and rushed over to her husband, kneeling down beside him.
"Are you all right?" she whispered to him, concern wrinkling her brow.
Crichton took a few deep breaths, then nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine."
Aeryn helped him back up to his feet, keeping her hands on him until she was sure he could stand. He wiped a hand down his face and glared over at Staleek.
"You will take us to your home planet," Staleek commanded.
"You wish," Crichton said breathlessly.
The Emperor rose from his throne and strode over to little D'Argo again. He smiled smugly down at the baby and lightly stroked its forehead with his thick fingers. Crichton clamped his teeth down hard and squeezed Wynona until his knuckles turned red.
"Your offspring is most fascinating, Crichton," Staleek said. "Half Sebacean, half Human. Both vulnerable to heat..."
D'Argo smiled up at Staleek and giggled, waving his arms in the air.
Crichton's stomach turned to ice and his breath caught in his chest. "Don't...don't touch him..."
"You will take us to your planet, or your child will suffer," Staleek scowled deeply.
Crichton stared at his son, who had his big, curious eyes glued to the scarran, beaming and laughing. D'Argo had no idea what was going on - he had no idea that the big lizard was a bad guy. It made Crichton's stomach lurch.
"I can't," he said weakly.
"You can't, or you won't?" Staleek snarled.
"The wormhole to Earth has been closed," Aeryn said. "Nobody can get there anymore."
"Crichton has an abundant knowledge of wormholes," said Staleek. "He will find a way."
Crichton shook his head. "No, I can't." He tore his eyes away from his son and looked up at the Emperor. "Stopping the wormhole weapon at the end of the war took it all outta me."
"That's not possible!" Staleek barked.
"You remember Einstein?" Crichton snapped. "Man of ultimate power? The guy who can wrap time around his finger? Froze you solid with a wave of his hand?" He flung his arm out wide in exaggerated imitation. "He took that crap out of my head!" he shouted as he pointed a finger at his temple. "I don't know squat about wormholes anymore!"
For a moment, the Emperor only studied Crichton with sharp, gleaming eyes. "Then you will find a way to get it back."
"That's not possible," Crichton said with a shake of his head.
"You know this man, Ienstien. You can make him give the knowledge back to you."
"No, I can't," Crichton insisted loudly. "The only way to get to him is through a wormhole, and I can't go down a wormhole anymore! I can't even find one!"
"YOU WILL FIND A WAY OR YOUR OFFSPRING WILL DIE!" Staleek roared, his gruff voice booming throughout the room.
Little D'Argo began to cry, wailing loudly and hiccuping. Both Crichton and Aeryn looked at their child longingly, wanting desperately to go to him and comfort him.
"Take that abomination out of here!" Staleek yelled, and a female Scarran rushed over and picked up the child.
Aeryn started forward but Crichton stopped her. "Aeryn...don't," he said softly.
Aeryn's eyes followed the female Scarran as she carried D'Argo from the room. Crichton reached for her hand and squeezed gently. His son's cries faded away, and once they completely disappeared, Crichton closed his eyes and swallowed hard.
His leather clothes felt scorching and tight. He wanted to take it all off, strip himself of it, but he was too weak to move much. His head was still spinning and his skin felt as though it were on fire. His eyes were starting to feel dry and they stung; his eyelids were too heavy to keep open anyways, so he let them fall shut.
Crichton realized that he could no longer hear the hybrid's panting. Opening his eyes again, he shifted his head enough to see the leather-clad body.
"Hey Grasshopper," Crichton rasped. It hurt immensely to talk, and his own voice frightened him. "You still alive?"
No response came from the half-breed.
Crichton nearly chuckled; the corners of his mouth twitched up. "You dead, Scorpy?" he slurred.
Scoripus still gave no response.
Crichton closed his eyes again. He didn't know what he was doing; he didn't give a damn about that bastard. Instead, he went back to thinking about what had happened. Was D'Argo still alive right now, or had they killed him? And if he was alive, what were they doing with him? And Aeryn...What were they doing with her? Horrible images flashed through his mind and a shudder passed down his body. He wanted to go back and change it, to prevent all this. But he didn't know what he could've done differently.
Aeryn had warned him about this, but he hadn't listened. He had been too hard-headed to believe he couldn't save his son without sacrificing something greater. Looking back on it now, Crichton knew that deep down he had known that what Aeryn had said was true. But he had ignored it, and now he hated himself for it. He had done exactly what he had been trying to prevent from happening all these years. He had lead them straight to it; he had handed it over on a sliver platter. He was such a frelling idiot.
To Be Continued